Judgment Day: What Do We Know About HRT? What Should We Know?
Bluming, Avrum Z.
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The purpose of clear communication about the possible risks of any medicine or treatment is to help consumers make informed decisions, but much of the professional and journalistic reporting of the data on HRT and health have been anything but clear. In the years from 2002 through 2008, reports from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), claiming that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) significantly increases the risks of breast cancer development, cardiac events, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke, alarmed the public and many health professionals, causing an almost immediate and sharp decline in the numbers of women on HRT. Yet the actual data in the published WHI articles reveal that the findings reported by the principal investigators were often distorted, oversimplified, or wrong. A critical review of available studies that have and have not found a link between HRT and breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive functioning and improved quality of life will be presented as part of a discussion of how to distinguish important, robust findings from those that are trivial. On this complicated matter, physicians, the media and the general public must be cautious about accepting “findings by press release” in determining whether or not to prescribe or take HRT.