A Decade of Saving Lives

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Author: 
Cindy Pearson, Executive Director, National Women's Health Network
Date: 
Mon, July 09, 2012

 

Ten years ago today, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was abruptly stopped when the study found that menopause hormone therapy was causing serious medical problems in otherwise healthy women, including an increased risk of breast cancer.
 
The WHI was one of the largest preventive women’s health studies ever conducted in the United States. It sought to better understand the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women.
 
The study found that estrogen/progestin combination hormone therapy causes breast cancer. It also conclusively showed that an increased risk of heart disease and stroke emerges within the first year of menopause hormone therapy use, and risks remain elevated up to 2 and 5 years after use. 
 
The WHI’s eye-opening results have saved thousands of lives by challenging conventional wisdom and providing important evidence about the dangers of long-term use of menopause hormone therapy.
 
In the last decade, an estimated 160,000 women avoided breast cancer thanks in part to decreasing exposure to unnecessary menopause hormone therapies.
 
The National Women’s Health Network was a leading advocate for the WHI. We continue to promote its results to ensure that women and their health care providers have reliable evidence-based information about the safety and effectiveness of menopause hormone therapy.
 
While the WHI has greatly informed our health, gaps in research and information remain. We need more research to support the development of safer alternatives to treat hot flashes, the most common and arguably most aggravating symptom of menopause. We need more women included in heart disease prevention research. And we need to strengthen protections against misleading promotion of unproven and unsafe drugs, including better regulation of drug advertisements.
 
The National Women’s Health Network will be hosting a 3-day blog carnival beginning today to discuss the full range of women’s health issues connected to the WHI.  You can submit your own blog post about how this landmark research has affected you personally or the work you do in women’s health, health research or health advocacy. Send your submission to Kate Ryan so we can post it as a guest blog on the NWHN site or post it to your own blog, if you have one, and send us a link. Blogs will be accepted and posted today through Wednesday. The earlier you can submit, the better! 
 
To learn more about the Women’s Health Initiative and the NWHN’s activities, click here
 
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