Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Panic, Says Doctor at Centre of HRT Scare

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Panic, Says Doctor at Centre of HRT Scare

Article excerpt


THE doctor who sparked panic among millions of women who take hormone replacement therapy with research showing that it carries long-term health risks, today urged calm.

Jacques Rossouw carried out a study which showed that while many women take HRT to protect themselves from the risks of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes, it can actually significantly increase the chance of developing these diseases.

The number of women in their fifties and sixties who take HRT rose from about five per cent 10 years ago to a current high of more than 30 per cent, after a series of studies in the late Nineties claimed that it could prevent cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

More than two million women are taking some form of HRT at any one time in the UK, and the patches, pills and implants are now multimillion-pound profit-leaders for many pharmaceutical giants.

But that could all change as a result of Dr Rossouw's study, the Women's Health Initiative, which involved more than 16,000 women and was expected to last for eight years in order to examine the longterm effects of HRT.

The American study was abandoned yesterday, three years early, as the findings had already begun to show that the risks related to HRT significantly outweighed the benefits. Researchers found that HRT increased the risk of invasive breast cancer by 26 per cent, of heart attacks and other coronary events by 29 per cent and of strokes by 41 per cent. It also doubled the risk of blood clots.

An editorial in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the findings, recommended that women should not be prescribed the type of HRT involved in the study over a long period.

However, as medical experts warned that sales of HRT could plummet, Dr Rossouw seemed to back track. Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "It's not an urgent alert situation, there's no emergency here."

But rather than reassure listeners that HRT was safe, Dr Rossouw added: "In the longer term, if you use it for several years, you are not likely to gain health - you are likely to lose health. …

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