Kidney stones should be added to the list of health problems linked with hormone pill use after menopause, according to an analysis of landmark government research that first raised alarms about the products.
Among more than 24,000 postmenopausal women taking either hormones or dummy pills, those using hormones were 21 percent more likely to develop kidney stones over about five years.
Those results suggest that over a year’s time, among 10,000 postmenopausal women taking hormones, five would develop kidney stones who wouldn’t have if they hadn’t used the pills.
The risks were similar for women taking Prempro, pills containing estrogen plus progestin — or Premarin, estrogen-only pills.
Recent data suggest that overall, about 6 percent of postmenopausal women develop kidney stones.
Dr. Naim Maalouf, the study’s lead author, said women considering using hormones to ease hot flashes and other menopause symptoms should “look at the bigger picture,” weighing those benefits against the risks for kidney stones but also for more serious problems the pills have been linked with, breast cancers, heart attacks and strokes.
The government now recommends that hormone replacement pills only be used to relieve menopause symptoms, in low doses for the shortest possible time. The new results on kidney stones are unlikely to change that advice.
The study appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.