Estrogen Therapy: WHI Initiative in Perspective (cont.)
The First surprise was that the WHI study was stopped early, after just 5.2 years, because there were early signs of increased harm (increase in coronary heart disease, stroke, and blood clots in the lungs) that outweighed the benefits (decreased fractures and colon cancer).
The WHI estimates that out of 10,000 women who take the particular EPT combination over the course of a year, we can expect additional cases of several serious health problems:
At the same time, however, there would be 6 fewer colorectal cancers and 5 fewer hip fractures. Many are women who are "hanging on" to EPT because of fear of Alzheimer's disease running in her family, only to be disappointed by the WHI study results.
The increase in breast cancer became especially apparent after 3-5 years, but the increase in heart disease and pulmonary emboli occurred early on, in the first year.
Some physicians, and their patients, would say that we finally have the answer, but we don't necessary like it. On the other hand, many points are worth emphasizing:
In regard to the use of EPT as osteoporosis prevention, many non-hormonal alternatives exist to treat osteoporosis.
As a final thought, women should speak to their physicians on an individual basis to determine the right treatment plan for them. At least that's something that still hasn't changed.
Last Editorial Review: 7/17/2003
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