A federal study found that long-term use of a hugely popular menopause
treatment leads to increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and
strokes. The massive Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, which was
conducted by the National Institutes of Health and included over 16,000
women across the United States, showed that taking a combination of estrogen
and progestin, such as that found in the widely prescribed drug Prempro,
increased women’s risk of developing breast cancer, heart disease, blood
clots and stroke so much that study participants were abruptly ordered
to stop taking the combination drugs three years before the study ended.
Other studies released since that time have demonstrated a risk between
estrogen only hormone therapy and ovarian cancer, and have substantiated the
findings of the WHI investigators.
Another federal study includes findings that long-term use of a hugely
popular menopause treatment leads to increased risk of breast cancer, heart
disease and strokes. This study, called HERS, Heart and Estrogen /
Progestin Replacement Study, showed that taking estrogen - Premarin -
and medroxyprogesterone - Cycrin, Provera, etc. - in combination (Prempro)
actually increased the risk of heart disease during the first year of
Prempro therapy for women with pre-existing heart disease. The early
increase in the risk of heart disease is believed to be due to an increase
in blood clotting from the intake of estrogen.
For 65 years, women have been encouraged to take drugs like Prempro for hot
flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and for their overall well-being. As it
turns out, women have been urged to take these drugs based on unreliable
scientific evidence. Now, with the WHI results, HERS study, and several
subsequent studies, physicians have reliable information from which they can
advise their patients about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to
long-term hormone therapy.
While manufacturer Wyeth Laboratories has no plans at present to recall
Prempro, new guidelines have been issued which advises that Prempro
should not be taken to prevent heart disease. The guidelines also caution
against long-term use due to the risk of breast cancer, and the
recommended dosages have literally been cut in half.
The FDA's warnings of previously unmentioned dangers are perceived by many
as a betrayal of women by the government and the billion dollar a year drug
industry. According to the consumer watch-dog group, Public Citizen, the
Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) September 9, 2003, announcement of a
"Collaborative Campaign to Inform Women About Menopausal Hormone Therapy"(1)
does a disservice to women by promoting drug information that is incomplete
and thus potentially dangerous.
If you have been taking
hormonal replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms, and are experiencing
problems regarding this (including Prempro), you should contact your
physician immediately. Please feel free to contact us at
1-888-4-MEDLAW if you have questions or concerns.
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