Postmenopausal treatment could be altered by a new discovery.
Scientists working at UT Southwestern Medical Center found the female sex hormone oestrogen has a profound impact on the body's regulation of appetite, energy expenditure and ultimately obesity risks.
Dr Deborah Clegg, an associate professor of internal medicine at the centre, said the function of oestrogen in postmenopausal women is still unclear.
Many women decide against hormone replacement therapy as full-body oestrogen treatment has been linked to breast cancer and strokes, but the new research suggests oestrogen could just be targeted to two receptors in the brain.
"Our findings further support a role for oestrogens in regulating body weight and energy expenditure, suggesting a benefit of oestrogen supplementation in postmenopausal women," explained Dr Clegg.
Brestcancer.org states that combination hormone replacement therapy, which adds progesterone to oestrogen, increases a women's risk of breast cancer by 75 per cent, but oestrogen therapy only causes increased risks after ten years of treatment.