The Womens Health Initiative in 2002 was a long-term study of postmenopausal women and hormone replacement therapy. HRT was commonly prescribed for menopausal women, based on studies that showed it might protect women against heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia. However, data from the study showed that women taking HRT had higher rates of breast cancer, heart attack, blood clots and stroke and the study was halted in 2004. Researchers concluded that the risks of HRT well outweighed the benefits.
However, two years after the WHI study on the health risks and potential dangers of hormone replacement therapy, less than one-third of all women were aware of the study. These are the findings of researchers at Stanford University.
Only 29 percent of women were aware of the study. Women surveyed were able to correctly identify possible risks and benefits of hormone therapy only 40 percent of the time.
Senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the new study points out that the medical profession hasn’t yet figured out an effective way of communicating crucial health information to patients.
“This study suggests that we have a flawed mechanism for getting information down to the level of the population,” Stafford said. “Although we looked specifically at menopause and hormone therapy, the findings have consequences for many other medical issues.”
Stafford found that of the women who were aware of the WHI study, 36% had discussed the issue of HRT with their physicians.