Good news for some menopausal women: Recent analysis reverses previous findings about hormones and heart risk.
According to an April 4th Wall Street Journal article by Tara Parker-Pope, researchers have done an about face on the subject after fuller analysis of the 15-yearlong Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), generated five years ago.
The researchers now say “timing” is the issue. Using hormones in the first years after menopause begins does not increase heart risk. The best candidate for hormonal use, according to the new analysis, is “a recently menopausal women, in her mid-40s or early 50s, who seeks relief from hot flashes and other symptoms.”
Per the article, “The data also showed hormone users aged 50 to 59 had a 30% lower risk of dying of any cause during the five-to-seven-year WHI study than those given a placebo.”
Ping-Pong Findings. The 1989 Nurse’s Health Study II proved to be among the largest prospective investigations into the risk factors for major chronic diseases in women. This significant study included a team of clinicians, epidemiologists and statisticians and demonstrated that “women who used menopause hormones had as much as 50% fewer heart attacks than nonusers of hormones.” As a result, women over 50 started to use hormones to “protect their hearts.”
Then 2002 rolled around with scores of menopausal women stopping hormonal use after the federal WHI study said they were “at risk.”
Now doctors and their female patients will be taking a well-deserved second look at using hormones for relief of menopausal symptoms.
Interestingly, the article mentions “the Journal of the American Medical Association and the WHI investigators played down the finding.”
And that begs the question: Why did a lay publication—the Wall Street Journal—and not the annals of internal medicine make this front-page news? People need to know and, thankfully, the WSJ got the information out.