Despite widespread publicity, the 2002 landmark study on the potential dangers of hormone therapy for postmenopausal women is completely unknown to most women.
New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine discovered that only 29 percent of the women surveyed knew anything about the study two years later. Additionally, only 40 percent of the women were able to identify possible risks and benefits linked to hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy is used to ease your symptoms of menopause, but has also been widely prescribed for preventive purposes, based in part on earlier observational studies that had suggested it could help protect women against heart disease, weak bones, and dementia.
In July 2002, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) abruptly ended its combination of estrogen and progestin therapy study, as their data discovered higher rates of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in the population taking the hormones, compared to those taking placebos.
Later, in April 2004, WHI also halted the portion of the study for estrogen-only therapy, after finding the hormone did not offer any protective heart disease prevention, but rather increased your risk of stroke and blood clots.
The WHI findings triggered enormous changes in the use of hormone therapy, and prescriptions had dropped 38 percent by 2003.
Senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, said their latest survey indicates there's a huge problem in communicating crucial health information to patients effectively, which in turn is indicative of an even larger problem – ensuring that people can make informed decisions about their medical care.
WHI March 2, 2007 (The Estrogen-Alone Study Links)
Women's Health Initiative (The Estrogen-Plus-Progestin Study Links)