SCIENTISTS FIND HIGH RATES OF CANCER, HEART DISEASE
By Barbara Feder Ostrov
Mercury News, Tue, Jul. 09, 2002
Scientists today will urge millions of American women taking hormone replacement therapy to avoid its long-term use because of unacceptably high rates of breast cancer and heart disease.
The recommendation comes as researchers halt a massive national study that examined the risks of a combination estrogen-progestin therapy used by an estimated 6 million U.S. women. While the therapy reduced the rate of hip fractures and colon cancer, it created disturbingly higher risks of breast cancer, heart disease, strokes and blood clots in the lungs — regardless of the women’s ethnicity, age or health concerns.
The trial, run by the National Institutes of Health and part of the large Women’s Health Initiative series of studies, was expected to continue until 2005. More than 16,000 post-menopausal women participating in the study, including about 1,450 in the Bay Area, were notified of its shutdown Monday.
“We needed to stop the trial to ensure the patients’ safety. We got the answer to benefits vs. risks much sooner than we expected, and the risks clearly outweigh the benefits,” said Dr. Marcia Stefanick, a Stanford professor and chairwoman of the Women’s Health Initiative steering committee