A call to review the Women’s Health Initiative

It’s not too late to help the next generation of women by reviewing the Women’s Health Initiative

Ten years ago, the Women’s Health Initiative dropped a bombshell when it reported that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increased a woman’s risk for heart disease,female joggers stroke, pulmonary embolism and breast cancer. What followed this announcement was nothing short of hysteria — millions of frightened women threw away their hormones and the medical community became extremely reluctant to prescribe hormone therapy to women suffering with menopause symptoms.

Why did this happen?

I could go into great detail about what I see as flaws in the Women’s Health Initiative’s reporting methods. But when it comes down to it, I firmly believe the Women’s Health Iniative jumped the gun and didn’t take the time to thoroughly evaluate and vet its initial findings before reporting on the estrogen-progestogen portion of the study. Further analysis by age or time since menopause tells a different story altogether, a story of little risk whatsoever for them women most likely to need symptomatic relieve, women ages 50-59. And for this, countless women will continue to pay the price, twofold. First, women will continue to suffer from the always unpleasant/sometimes debilitating symptoms of menopause. Second, the very women the study was supposed to help, those who had hysterectomies and the most severe symptoms are now at an increased risk for developing heart disease and osteoporosis. That’s right! Reanalysis of WHI data clearly show that women within 10 years from menopause who took estrogen therapy actually reduced their risk for developing heart disease, breast cancer, and fractures.

How can we make things right with the Women’s Health Initiative?

It’s time to stop living in the past. Now is the time for an independent evaluation of the Women’s Health Initiative publications to determine whether or not the data supports its original conclusions. What’s more, there needs to be an FDA advisory committee created to reexamine the black box labels on postmenopausal hormones. In particular, there needs to be a separation of advisories when it comes to estrogen only products typically used in women with a hysterectomy, and estrogen-progestogen products for women with their uterus.

 

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Contributed by

James A. Simon

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