Hormone therapy, long shunned for a possible breast cancer link, is now seen as a short-term treatment for menopause symptoms (

Look at the Internet ads and news headlines about menopausal hormone therapy and you’ll find two competing story lines: Taking hormones is either going to keep a woman young and solve all her menopause-related woes, or it’s going to give her breast cancer and other scary diseases.

The truth is that neither narrative is universally correct. Although consensus now exists that women shouldn’t take hormone therapy long term, hormones can still safely help many women in the throes of menopause

Fifty years ago, hormones were advertised as a cure-all. In his 1966 bestseller, “Feminine Forever,” physician Robert Wilson declared that menopause was a disease, and he had the cure: hormones, without which women would be “condemned to witness the death of their own womanhood.”

The magic of hormone therapy wasn’t just that it could make a menopausal woman whole again in the eyes of men like Wilson, who apparently received funding from Wyeth (the pharmaceutical maker of the hormones he was promoting).

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