HORMONE THERAPY: Women Warned of Potential Complications
In the latest development regarding the risks and benefits of taking hormone replacement therapy, nearly 25,000 women participating in the Hormone Replacement Therapy trial of the Women's Health Initiative were informed Friday that the "therapy may have put the women at a slightly higher risk of heart attacks and strokes," the New York Times reports. The trial is the largest to date to study the effects of hormone therapy on heart disease. An estimated 10 million post-menopausal American women take Premarin estrogen therapy under the "widespread belief that it will prevent heart disease." However, preliminary results from the trial indicate that women who received estrogen were at "slightly" higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots compared to women who received placebo pills. Although the findings did not necessitate halting the study, Dr. Jacques Rossouw, director of the trial, said he felt "morally obligated" to tell women about the findings. "We told them all about the risks and benefits but we didn't tell them there might be an increased risk of heart disease" at the trial's outset, Rossouw said. Noting that only a small number of participants actually had heart attacks, strokes or blood clots, the letter urged women to continue with the study as it is now "more important than ever" (Kolata, 4/5).
In related news, 56-year-old model Lauren Hutton was in Washington, D.C. yesterday touting the benefits of hormone replacement therapy to female employees at Fannie Mae headquarters. She also met with Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Hutton is a paid spokeperson for pharmaceutical giant Wyeth-Ayerst, which manufactures and markets Premarin estrogen pills (Grove/Berselli, Washington Post, 4/4).