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Menopause: How hormone therapy affects body fat

April 17, 2018—Here's some good news about hormone therapy for symptoms of menopause: Women who take it tend to have lower levels of body fat, especially abdominal fat. The downside? That doesn't last forever.

The findings come from a new study of more than 1,000 post-menopausal women ages 50 to 80. Those currently taking hormone therapy had significantly less belly fat and slightly less fat overall compared to those who weren't. But women who had previously used menopausal hormone therapy and stopped seemed to quickly gain belly fat and total fat after ending treatment.

Most women find that it's easier to gain weight after menopause. The extra pounds are also more likely to show up around their bellies instead of their hips or thighs. But excess fat—especially around your stomach—can raise the risk for problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.

Experts recommend that women taking hormone therapy use it for the shortest time possible. And when it's time to stop, be aware of the risk for weight gain and take steps to avoid it, the study authors say.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Managing your weight after menopause

One way to thwart extra pounds is by exercising more. Not only can physical activity help stave off excess body fat, it can also help relieve some menopause symptoms and improve your health overall. Learn more about exercising as you get older here.

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