The media attention surrounding publication of the initial results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002 led to much fear and confusion regarding the use of hormone therapy (HT) after menopause. This led to a dramatic reduction in prescriptions for HT in the United States and around the world. Although in 2002 it was stated that the results pertained to all women receiving HT, subsequent analyses of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and others clearly showed that “younger women and those within 10 years of menopause had a very beneficial (overall) risk-to-benefit ratio.”
A Study published in July of 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that “Over a 10-year span, starting in 2002, a minimum of 18,601 and as many as 91,610 postmenopausal women died prematurely because of the avoidance of estrogen therapy.” Their conclusion was that “Estrogen therapy in younger postmenopausal women is associated with a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality, but estrogen use in this population is low and continuing to fall.”
According to a 2013 article in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, even data from WHI revealed:
- A protective effect for coronary disease and a reduction in mortality, similar to the results of earlier observational studies which had focused on younger symptomatic women.
- In younger women, the increased number of cases of blood clots and stroke was low, and considered “rare” by World Health Organization Standards.
- Breast cancer rates were also low and actually found to be decreased with estrogen alone.
- In women receiving estrogen and (a synthetic) progestogen for the first time, breast cancer rates did not increase significantly for 7 years.
Other data suggests that regimens using different progestogens, such as micronized (bio-identical) progesterone, appear to pose no increased risk, and may even decrease the risk of breast cancer.
In addition, various reports have also suggested an increased rate of osteoporotic fractures since WHI, likely due to reduced use of postmenopausal HT.
In the 10 years since WHI, nearly a generation of women has been denied HT, missing a critical window of opportunity for preventing heart disease, stroke, dementia and even breast cancer. This has resulted in needless suffering, broken marriages and broken bones for countless women, even death for an estimated 50,000…all this from the faulty interpretation of a single, flawed study.
At Cenegenics, our group of expert physicians looks past the media headlines and continually examines medical literature from a variety of sources, making our therapy decisions based upon the big picture. These findings are not a surprise to us…we have been saying this all along!