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Early Termination of the WHI Estrogen Study

by Jennifer Wider, MD

Washington, DC- The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) today issued the following statement regarding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decision to terminate early the estrogen-alone portion of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study.

"It is important to put this study into context.  It was designed to assess the effect of long-term hormone therapy in healthy post-menopausal women in the prevention of heart disease and hip fractures and any related changes in the risk for breast cancer.  The study did not evaluate the short-term risks and benefits of hormone therapy for the treatment of moderate or severe menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes or vulvar and vaginal atrophy.

"Preliminary results show that estrogen alone does not increase or decrease a woman's risk for heart disease or breast cancer.  As with combination estrogen-plus-progestin, risk of hip fracture decreases.  A small increased risk of stroke does appear to be a factor, and in women over 65 years of age preliminary data suggests a possible increase in cognitive loss.

"The follow-up phase of the study will have to be carried out before any conclusive interpretations can be made. 

"New research in menopausal therapy is imperative so that other options for women become available. The Society commends the women who are participating in the Women's Health Initiative. Through their committed participation, they have demonstrated that women can and will participate in medical research in large numbers, and that the appropriate inclusion of women in medical research studies is an achievable goal."

The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to improve the health of women through research. Founded in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the resulting need for more information about conditions affecting women. The Society advocates increased funding for research on women's health, encourages the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, and promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies. Dr. Donnica Moore has been a member of the Society since 1990 and is a past member of its Board of Directors.

Created: 3/2/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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