Early tests of new synthetic compounds show that they could protect women from heart disease and osteoporosis in the same way estrogen does. Taking estrogen hormone supplements after menopause helps reduce the risk of heart disease in women and bone-thinning osteoporosis. Some women don’t take estrogen, however, because of its possible side-effects — increased risk of certain cancers. The compounds, now in testing stages, don’t incur those possible side-effects.
Though similar to estrogen, doctors warn that differences nonetheless remain. Unlike estrogen, the synthetic compounds don’t prevent hot flashes associated with menopause, nor do they raise the “good” type of cholesterol. Doctors also believe that estrogen might protect against Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer, but they don’t know if the compounds have similar effects. The compounds still remain years away from market sales, but analysts predict that they could create profits in the hundreds of millions.