The Women’s Health Initiative study was a very large, long-term study of the effects of taking estrogen-only HRT or combined (estrogen and progesterone) HRT. The study, which was published in 2002, showed a small but significant increase in incidences of breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and blood clots in women taking the combined HRT, causing many doctors to stop prescribing it and many women to stop taking it. More recent findings suggest that HRT is probably safe – even beneficial – for healthy women younger than 60, though many doctors suggest women stop taking combined HRT after 5 years. HRT can be highly effective for controlling or eliminating many symptoms of menopause, so it’s worth having a detailed discussion with your doctor. If you have a personal or family history of breast or endometrial cancer, blood clots, or liver disease, or if you smoke, HRT is not recommended.