May 27, 2003
Washington, D.C.- The claims of hormone replacement therapy were wishful thinking rather than sound science, and the latest results from the Women’s Health Initiative remind us how important it is to do the science before selling the medication.
It was easy to claim that hormone therapy improved memory and helped prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, but the new study shows that the claims are false and the opposite is true. Contrary to the claims that were made for many years, women who took HRT were twice as likely to suffer from dementia as women who didn’t.
Fortunately, the risk of dementia — although twice what it should be — is still low. But given the millions of women who took HRT, there could still be a substantial number of women harmed by these hormones.
These findings are important for men and women considering taking hormones for a range of supposed benefits, in addition to those who are considering it for menopause. And it is a chilling reminder that what “everybody knows” about the benefits of a particular medication could be totally incorrect.
The findings will be published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, based on 4,500 women between 65 and 79 years of age. Half were taking Prempro and half were on placebo. The study is part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).