Media Claims About HRT are Inaccurate and Misleading, According to Women to Women

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Recent headlines have proclaimed: "HRT apparently safe in younger women" and "HRT fine for younger women" -- the opposite of what women been told since the WHI study in 2002 warned women to stop taking HRT.

I think women will be smarter than their doctors

Women to Women, America's leading medical clinic devoted to health care for women, by women, cautions that new headlines proclaiming HRT as safe are inaccurate and misleading. These recent headlines -- "HRT apparently safe in younger women" and "HRT fine for younger women" -- are the opposite of what women have been told since the WHI study in 2002 warned women to stop taking HRT.

"This is not a reversal of findings," says Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP, one of the founders of Women to Women. "The new study takes a second look at one aspect of the same data used in the 2002 WHI study. It shows that younger women taking HRT may have less risk for heart disease than those in the placebo group, while older women taking HRT clearly show increased risk."

"But the new study doesn't address other risks found in the original 2002 study, such as breast cancer and blood clots. Nor does it address the later findings on increased risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's," says Pick. "In fact, the new study confirmed that the most common form of HRT (estrogen with synthetic progestin) increases the risk of stroke in all age groups. So just because heart risk may be lower in women closer to menopause, that doesn't mean these women (or any other age group of women) on synthetic HRT are safe from stroke or other reported risks."

"With the proven stroke risk and without a new analysis of breast cancer risk, how can we really say synthetic hormone therapy is suddenly safe?" asks Dixie Mills, MD, renowned breast care specialist and partner in Women to Women's Personal Program. "The 2002 findings showed that women on estrogen-plus-progestin therapy were 26% more likely to suffer from breast cancer than those in the placebo group. And breast cancer risk is the main reason why I think women went off HRT in the first place," Mills says. "This risk has not changed."

Even Dr. Jacques Rossouw, the lead author on the study, agrees. "I understand that some people are going to say that we've reversed course," said Dr. Rossouw in his response to the Wall Street Journal. "The data are the data. We're saying the same things. We just have more detail."

"More research is definitely needed," says Mills. "The results do show a decrease in overall mortality risk in younger women taking synthetic HRT, but there is debate about whether these results are statistically significant." In fact, many of the positive results fail to meet the statistical standards set by the authors. And without statistical significance, the positive results could have the same chance of happening by accident as they do by a cause and effect relationship.

"What we can take away from all of this," says Pick, "is that researchers are moving toward what Women to Women has said all along. Hormonal supplementation is best the closer women are to menopause. If we look strictly at nature, it makes sense that starting supplemental hormones is not meant for women much past menopause. It isn't natural."

Pick continues by saying that "The real problem with the current headlines is that they tell women that synthetic HRT is safe. There's also a campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to convince women that there is no alternative to synthetic HRT. Neither position is true. Synthetic HRT is no safer than we thought it was before, and there are good, natural ways to find relief from menopause symptoms."

"I think women will be smarter than their doctors," says Mills, "and go with their guts on this one."

Resources

For more information on natural alternatives to synthetic HRT, see:

Hormone Replacement Therapy
http://www.womentowomen.com/bioidentical-hrt/index.asp

Breast cancer, progestins and natural progesterone
http://www.womentowomen.com/breasthealth/progesteronebreastcancer.asp

References and further reading
http://www.womentowomen.com/bioidentical-hrt/WHI2007reanalysis-references.asp

About Women to Women

Women to Women is America's leading medical practice devoted to health care for women, by women. Founded over 21 years ago, it has always advocated an approach to women's health that combines the best of alternative and conventional medicine. Through its practice, website, and publications, Women to Women supports over a million women a year in their efforts to create health and well-being in their lives.

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Donna Poulin
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