Where brains are always on the menu! Serving up a heaping portion of the latest neuroscience news, plus a side of social commentary expertly seasoned with action potentials and cognitive functions. Garnished with general thoughts on science, ethics, and evolution. For dessert, enjoy a sickeningly-sweet understanding of human behavior!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Menopause II: Types of HRT and Physiological Consequences

This is the second of what will probably be a four-part series that examines menopause, hormone therapy, and consequences of each. Today's installment looks at the makeup of common hormones on the market, physiological consequences of hormone loss and replacement, and the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) studies. A slight emphasis is placed on Alzheimer's Disease as a segway to the next installments, which will focus on cognitive and neurobiological consequences of menopause and hormone therapy.

Click below for more
Components of Common Hormone Therapies

17-beta estradiol (E2), the primary circulating estrogen during reproductive years, was first isolated in 1935 from sow ovaries (Stumpf, 1992). E2 is difficult to use as a postmenopausal therapy as much of the compound is deactivated in the gastrointestinal tract unless the hormone is micronized, and even then most E2 is converted to the less potent estrone (E1).

In the United States, conjugated equine estrogens (CEE), or oral Premarin, is the most widely used form of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Conjugated equine estrogens are extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (Stumpf, 1992). CEE is a mixture of many different compounds, some of which are not naturally present in the human: estrone sulfate (50%), equilin sulfates (40%), and at least ten other estrogenic compounds. E2 is not a major component of Premarin, although an oral dose of 0.625 mg/day is sufficient to produce normal E1 and E2 levels in most women. CEE is often used in conjunction with a p
rogestin. Natural progesterone faces the same problems of absorption as E2 (Stumpf, 1992), consequently the most common progestin in the United States is the synthetic medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), which is produced by addition of a methyl group to the 6 position, and one acetoxy group to the 17α position of progesterone. MPA is also administered orally and is absorbed quickly, with levels peaking in serum in a few hours.

During oral administration sex steroids experience the “first pass” effect of exposure to the liver, where they undergo metabolic conversions, conjugation to water-soluble sulfates, and prepararation for excretion. Thus, oral administration of hormones can reduce bioavailability of estrogens as they become inactivated by conjugation (Lobo, 1987). This first pass also stimulates production of hepatic proteins and lipoprotein packaging that could have positive consequences for the circulatory system. Progesterones are subject to the same first-pass effect, where they can negate any benefit on lipid profiles exerted by estrogen.

Other forms of estrogen + progesterone combinations (hormone replacement therapy, or HRT) are available, and a number of routes and regimens are also available. Transdermal patches, vaginal creams, or intramuscular injections are common routes of administration that bypass the first-pass effects of the liver in an attempt to deliver estrogens directly into the bloodstream (Stumpf, 1992). Treatment regimens may include any combination of cyclic or continuous estrogen and/or progesterone, tailored to the needs of the individual.

Consequences of Ovarian Hormone Loss and ERT or HRT

Symptoms Associated with Menopause: Hot flashes, the increase in perception of heat within or on the body, often accompanied by perspiration, skin flushing, and insomnia, are a common complaint of women undergoing menopause. Estimates of hot flash prevalence are between 50 and 85% of women, and incidence of hot flashes decreases with the postmenopausal interval. Other symptoms such as vaginal dryness and changes to vaginal epithelium, epidermal changes, and a variety of urinary dysfunctions are common (Greendale and Sowers, 1997). Psychological symptoms may also occur, such as increased anxiety and depression (Rogers, 1956a). Early studies pointed to the benefits of using hormonal replacement to treat these physiological and psychological symptoms (reviewed in Rogers, 1956b). In the 1960s, hormone replacement became the subject of numerous studies that attempted to discern whether they could be used effectively to treat chronic conditions relating to menopause, and whether prolonged use of hormones had consequences of their own.

Osteoporosis: Albright et al (1941) suggested estrogen replacement therapy as a treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Measures of bone density became available in the 1960s, prompting an increase in attention to these issues and confirming that decreases in bone density follow the loss of circulating estrogens that occurs with menopause, and which can lead to osteoporosis. Bone mineral density declines at a rate of roughly 1% per year during perimenopause (Greendale and Sowers, 1997), and this loss is accelerated to 2-3% in radius and 5% in spine immediately following menopause (Cann et al., 1980). ERT was found to reduce the risk of hip and wrist fractures by 60%, and doses of Premarin as low as 0.625 mg inhibit postmenopausal bone loss (Lindsay et al., 1976), both with and without a progestin (The Writing Group for PEPI, 1996).

Cancers: Endometrial cancer rates increased in association with estrogen replacement therapy from 1953-1973, with the first reports appearing in 1975 (Smith et al., 1975; Ziel and Finkle, 1975), prompting a shift to therapies that included a progestin to offset endometrial hyperplasia. Combined hormone replacement therapy is not associated with endometrial cancer, making this therapy more appropriate for women who still had a uterus. In the 1980s, the first studies reported that combining ERT with a cyclic or continuous progestin could prevent endometrial cancer in women (Thom et al., 1979; Whitehead et al., 1981; Gambrell et al., 1983). An increased risk of breast cancer was identified from observational studies of ERT (Steinberg et al., 1991; Grady et al., 1992), and a later meta-analysis of 51 studies also suggested the same (Beral et al., 1997). Unfortunately, human and animal studies in the 1930s and 1940s had suggested associations between hyperestrogenism and mammary cancer (reviewed in Rogers, 1956b), but these potential links were not adequately addressed for decades.

Coronary Heart Disease: The first studies demonstrating that ERT could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) were released in the 1980s (Bain et al., 1981; Ross et al., 1981; Sullivan et al., 1988). It was also shown that ovariectomy led to a doubling of the risk of CHD, which could be prevented with ERT (Colditz et al., 1987). Other studies demonstrated favorable outcomes of ERT and HRT on CHD and serum lipid profiles (Bush et al., 1987; Rijpkema et al., 1990; Stampfer and Colditz, 1991; Grady et al., 1992), with as much as a 40-50% decrease in CHD, and studies in primates also suggested a protective effect of ERT on coronary artery atherosclerosis in ovariectomized (OVX) monkeys, although addition of a progestin had no effect (Adams et al., 1990). However, in studies of women with prior CHD, HRT seemed to increase risk of a CHD event (Hulley et al., 1998; Grady et al., 2002). Moreover, HRT did not reduce progression of atherosclerosis in another study (Herrington et al., 2000).

A Response to the Controversies: The Women’s Health Initiative

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) began as a pair of randomized clinical trials designed in 1991-1992 to assess the relative risks and benefits of HRT and ERT on major outcomes associated with menopause, primarily CHD, and hopefully shed light on prior conflicting reports. The studies enrolled 161,809 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 from 40 clinical centers around the United States and was divided into two arms: The HRT arm targeted the effects of most common regimen, a daily oral dose of 0.625 mg CEE + 2.5 mg MPA (Prempro, Wyeth-Ayerst, Philadelphia, PA) in healthy women who still had a uterus, and the ERT arm examined 0.625 mg CEE daily on major outcomes in women who had undergone hysterectomy. The major outcomes assessed were CHD (primary outcome) and invasive breast cancer (the primary negative outcome), stroke, pulmonary embolism, endometrial and colorectal cancer, and hip fracture.

The HRT arm was stopped after 5.2 of a planned 8.5 years, due to the relative risks exceeding benefits. All-causes mortality was not affected, but there was a 26% increased risk of breast cancer, a surprising 29% significant increased risk of CHD, and a 41% increase in stroke rates with a twofold increase in venous thromboembolism for the HRT group. Colorectal cancer risk was reduced 37% and fractures reduced by 24% in the HRT group, but these benefits were not enough to confer an overall benefit and justify continuation of the trial (WHI Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiave Investigators, 2002). The ERT arm was also terminated early due to an increased risk of stroke (39%) in the CEE group. There was a decreased risk of hip fracture in the CEE group compared to controls (30 to 39%), a possible reduction in breast cancer (23%), but no overall effect on CHD. As the overall risk was not different between CEE and placebo, the trial was terminated (WHI Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators, 2004).

Ovarian Hormones and Alzheimer’s Disease--The WHI Memory Study: Postmenopausal women have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) than men, and it has been suggested that ERT can reduce this risk. A number of studies support this notion; case-controlled, cross-sectional, and prospective studies have reported that women taking ERT have a lower risk of dementia than do postmenopausal women not taking estrogen (Kawas et al., 1997; Henderson et al., 1994; Waring et al., 1999; Steffens et al., 1999; Baldereschi et al., 1998; Tang et al., 1996; Cauley et al., 1990; Matthews et al., 1999). Recent meta-analyses suggest the risk reduction for AD is 29-34% (Yaffe et al., 1998; Nelson et al., 2002) for women receiving ERT. A recent prospective study reported that HRT also decreased risk of the disease, with increasing duration of HRT conferring an increased benefit (Zandi et al., 2002). ERT might also have positive effects on cognition in women diagnosed with AD, as early studies found improvements on memory (Honjo et al., 1989), attention and orientation (Fillit et al., 1986), and subsequent studies seemed to bolster these findings (Henderson et al., 1994; Okhura et al., 1994; Okhura et al., 1995). However, some observational studies of ERT did not find a cognitive benefit or decreased risk of AD (Cauley et al., 1990; Barrett-Connor and Kritz-Silverstein, 1993; Brenner et al., 1994; Matthews et al., 1999), and neither have some prospective clinical trials (Henderson et al., 2000; Mulnard et al., 2000; Wang et al., 2000).

With these issues in mind, the WHI Memory Study (WHIMS) was conducted. This ancillary study to the WHI found that the risk of probable dementia in patients receiving Prempro was actually increased in postmenopausal women age 65 or older (Shumaker et al., 2003). Additionally, CEE increased the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment combined with AD (Shumaker et al., 2004), and CEE or CEE + MPA decreased performance on a cognitive profile (Espeland et al., 2004). The results from WHIMS differ markedly from prior reports which often consisted of mixed hormone regimens and doses, suggesting that specifically, the CEE + MPA combination may be detrimental.

Implications for WHI and WHIMS: While the WHI and WHIMS studies provide us with valuable information about the risks and benefits of ERT and HRT, the results must be interpreted with caution. Firstly, the studies assessed only very select forms of ERT and HRT, so their results should not be generalized to all forms of hormone replacement. Secondly, these studies were initiated in women who had been postmenopausal for a number of years, which suggests that they might have missed the “window of opportunity” where they could have received the most benefit from treatment. Additionally, many of the women in the study also displayed risk factors for the major outcomes of the study, which could have put them at increased risk for the negative consequences for the use of HRT. While there was no increased mortality, the lack of overall benefit of ERT/HRT justified early termination of the trials, as it was unlikely that prolonged exposure to hormone therapy would benefit the subjects.

While the WHIMS study found negative consequences for women taking ERT or HRT on a number of measures, including an overall cognitive profile, this study did not assess the effects of hormone therapy on specific cognitive domains. Indeed, a recent review of the literature suggests that symptomatic younger women who complain of more specific cognitive impairments associated with menopause may benefit from hormone therapy, while incurring little to no risk from the treatment (Maki, 2005).


Adams MR, Kaplan JR, Manuck SB, Kroritnik DR, Parks JS, Wolfe MS, Clarkson TB. 1990. Inhibition of coronary artery atherosclerosis by 17-beta estradiol in ovariectomized monkeys: Lack of an effect of added progesterone. Arteriosclerosis 10:1051-1057.

Albright F, Smith PH, Richardson AM. 1941. Postmenopausal osteoporosis: its clinical features. JAMA 116:2465-2474.

Bain C, Willett W, Hennekens CH, Rosner B, Belanger C, Speizer FE.1981. Use of postmenopausal hormones and risk of myocardial infarction. Circulation 64:42-46.

Baldereschi M, Di Carlo A, Lepore V, Bracco L, Maggi S, Grigoletto F, Scarlato G, Amaducci L. 1998. Estrogen-replacement therapy and Alzheimer's disease in the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Neurology 50:996-1002.

Barrett-Connor E, Kritz-Silverstein D. 1993. Estrogen replacement therapy and cognitive function in older women. JAMA 269:2637-2641.

Beral V, Bull D, Doll R, Peto R, Reeves G; Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. 1997. Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy: collaborative reanalysis of data from 51 epidemiological studies of 52,705 women with breast cancer and 108,411 women without breast cancer. Lancet 350:1047-1059.

Brenner DE, Kukull WA, Stergachis A, van Belle G, Bowen JD, McCormick WC, Teri L, Larson EB. 1994. Postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy and the risk of Alzheimer's disease: a population-based case-control study. Am J Epidemiol 140:262-7

Bush TL, Barrett-Connor E, Cowan LD, Criqui MH, Wallace RB, Suchindran CM, Tyroler HA, Rifkind BM.. 1987. Cardiovascular mortality and noncontraceptive use of estrogen in women: results from the Lipid Research Clinics Program follow-up study. Circulation 75:1102-1109.

Cann CE, Genant HK, Ettinger B, Gordan GS. 1980. Spinal mineral loss in oophorectomized women: determination by quantitative computed tomography. JAMA 244:2056-2059.

Cauley JA, Cummings SR, Black DM, Mascioli SR, Seeley DG. 1990. Prevalence and determinants of estrogen replacement therapy in elderly women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 163:1438-1444.

Colditz GA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Rosner B, Speizer FE, Hennekens CH. Menopause and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med 316:1105-1110.

Espeland MA, Rapp SR, Shumaker SA, Brunner R, Manson JE, Sherwin BB, Hsia J, Margolis KL, Hogan PE, Wallace R, Dailey M, Freeman R, Hays J; Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. 2004. Conjugated equine estrogens and global cognitive function in postmenopausal women: Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. JAMA 291:2959-68.

Fillit H, Weinreb H, Cholst I, Luine V, McEwen BS, Amador R, Zabriskie J. 1986. Observations in a preliminary open trial of estradiol therapy for senile dementia-Alzheimer’s Type. Psychoneuroendocrinology 11:337-345.

Gambrell RD Jr, Bagnell CA, Greenblatt RB. 1983. Role of estrogens and progesterone in the etiology and prevention of endometrial cancer: a review. Am J Obstet Gynecol 146:696-707.

Grady D, Herrington D, Bittner V, Blumenthal R, Davidson M, Hlatky M, Hsia J,Hulley SB, Herd A, Khan S, Newby LK, Waters D, Vittinghoff E, Wenger N. 2002. Cardiovascular outcomes during 6.8 years of hormone therapy. Heart and estrogen/progestin replacement study follow-up (HERS II). JAMA 288:49-57.

Grady D, Rubin SM, Petitti DB, Fox CS, Black D, Ettinger B, Ernster VL, Cummings SR. 1992. Hormone therapy to prevent disease and prolong life in postmenopausal women. Ann Intern Med 117:1016-1037.

Greendale GA, Sowers M. 1997. The Menopause Transition. Menopause and Hormone replacement Therapy 26:261-277.

Henderson VW, Paganini-Hill A, Emanuel CD, Dunn MC, Buckwalter JG. 1994. Estrogen replacement therapy in older women. Arch Neurol 51:896-900.

Henderson VW, Paganini-Hill A, Miller BL, Elble RJ, Reyes PF, Shoupe D, McCleary CA, Klein RA, Hake AM, Farlow MR. 2000. Estrogen for Alzheimer's disease in women: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Neurology 54:295-301.

Herrington DM, Reboussin DM, Brosnihan KB, Sharp PC, Shumaker SA, Snyder TE, Furberg CD, Kowalchuk GJ, Stuckey TD, Rogers WJ, Givens DH, Waters D. 2000. Effects of estrogen replacement on progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis. N Engl J Med 343:522-529.

Honjo H, Ogino Y, Naitoh K, Urabe M, Kitawaki J, Yasuda J, Yamamoto T, Ishihara S, Okada H, Yonezawa T, Hayashi K, Nambara T. 1989. In vivo effects by estrone sulfate on the central nervous system-senile dementia (Alzheimer’s Type). J Steroid Biochem 34:521-525.

Hulley S, Grady D, Bush T, Furberg C, Herrington D, Riggs B, Vittinghoff E.. 1998. Randomized trial of estrogen plus progestin for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. JAMA 280:605-613.

Kawas C, Resnick S, Morrison A, Brookmeyer R, Corrada M, Zonderman A, Bacal C, Lingle DD, Metter E. 1997. A prospective study of estrogen replacement therapy and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Neurology 48:1517-21.

Lindsay R, Hart DM, Aitken JM, MacDonald EB, Anderson JB, Clarke AC. 1976. Long-term prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis by oestrogen: evidence for an increased bone mass after delayed onset of oestrogen treatment. Lancet 1:1038-1041.

Lobo R. Absorption and metabolic effects of different types of estrogens and progesterones. Obstet Gynecol Clin Amer 1987.

Rijpkema AH, van der Sanden AA, Ruijis AH. 1990. Effects of postmenopausal estrogen-progesterone therapy on serum lipids and lipoproteins: a review. Maturitas 12:259-285.

Maki PM. 2005. A systematic review of clinical trials of hormone therapy on cognitive function: Effects of age at initiation and progestin use. Ann NY Acad Sci 1052:182-197.

Matthews K, Cauley J, Yaffe K, Zmuda JM. 1999. Estrogen replacement therapy and cognitive decline in older community women. J Am Geriatr Soc 47:518-523.

Nelson HD, Humphrey LL, Nygren P, Teutcsch SM, Allan JD. 2002. Postmenopausal hormone replacement: scientific review. JAMA 288:872-881.

Okhura T, Kunihiro I, Akazawa K, Hamamota M, Yaoi Y, Hagino N. 1994. Evaluation of estrogen treatment in female patients with dementia of the Alzheimer type. Endocr J 41:361-371.

Okhura T, Kunihiro I, Akazawa K, Hamamota M, Yaoi Y, Hagino N. 1995. Long-term estrogen replacement therapy in female patients with dementia of the Alzhemer type: 7 case reports. Dementia 6:99-107.

Rogers J. 1956a. The Menopause. N Engl J Med 254:697-704.

Rogers J. 1956b. The Menopause (concluded). N Engl J Med 254:750-756.

Ross RK, Paganini-Hill A, Mack TM, Arthur M, Henderson BE. 1981. Menopausal oestrogen therapy and protection from death from ischaemic heart disease. Lancet 858-860.

Shumaker SA, Legault C, Rapp SR, Thal L, Wallace RB, Ockene JK, Hendrix SL, Jones BN 3rd, Assaf AR, Jackson RD, Kotchen JM, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Wactawski-Wende J; WHIMS Investigators. 2003. Estrogen plus progestin and the incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in postmenopausal women: the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 289:2651-62.

Shumaker SA, Legault C, Kuller L, Rapp SR, Thal L, Lane DS, Fillit H, Stefanick ML, Hendrix SL, Lewis CE, Masaki K, Coker LH; Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. 2004. Conjugated equine estrogens and incidence of probable dementia and mild cognitive impairment in postmenopausal women: Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. JAMA 291:2947-58.

Smith DC, Prentice R, Thompson DJ, Herrmann WL. 1975. Association of exogenous estrogen and endometrial carcinoma. N Engl J Med 293:1164-1167.

Stampfer M, Codlitz G. 1992. Hormone therapy to prevent disease and prologn life in postmenopausal women. Ann Intern Med 117:1016-1037.

Steffens DC, Norton MC, Plassman BL, Tschanz JT, Wyse BW, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Anthony JC, Breitner JC. 1999. Enhanced cognitive performance with estrogen use in nondemented community-dwelling older women. 47:1171-5.

Steinberg KK, Thacker SB, Smith SJ, Stroup DF, Zack MM, Flanders WD, Berkelman RL. 1991. A meta-analysis of the effect of estrogen replacement therapy on risk of breast cancer. JAMA 265:1985-1990.

Stumpf P. Estrogen Replacement Therapy: Current Regimens. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins. in Hormone Replacement Therapy, D.P. Swartz ed. 1992.

Sullivan JM, Vander Zwaag R, Lemp GF, Hughes JP, Maddock V, Kroetz FW, Ramanathan KB, Mirvis DM. 1988. Postmenopausal estrogen use and coronary atherosclerosis. Ann Intern Med 108:358-363.

Tang MX, Jacobs D, Stern Y, Marder K, Schofield P, Gurland B, Andrews H, Mayeux R. 1996. Effect of oestrogen during menopause on risk and age at onset of Alzheimer's disease. Lancet 348:429-32.

Thom MH, White PJ, Williams RM, Sturdee DW, Paterson ME, Wade-Evans T, Studd JW. 1979. Prevention and treatment of endometrial disease in climacteric women receiving estrogen. Lancet 2:455-457.

Wang PN, Liao SQ, Liu RS, Liu CY, Chao HT, Lu SR, Yu HY, Wang SJ, Liu HC. 2000. Effects of estrogen on cognition, mood, and cerebral blood flow in AD: a controlled study. Neurology 54:2061-2066.

Waring SC, Rocca WA, Petersen RC, O’Brien PC, Tangalos EG, Kokmen E. Postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy and risk of AD: a population-based study. Neurology 52:965-970.

Whitehead MI, Townsend PT, Pryse-Davies J, Ryder TA, King RJ. 1981. Effects of estrogen and progestins on the biochemistry and morphology of the postmenopausal endometrium. N Engl J Med 305:1599-1605.

Writing Group for PEPI. 1996. Effects of hormone therapy on bone mineral density: results from the postmenopausal estrogen/progestin interventions (PEPI) trial. JAMA 276:1389-96.

Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. 2002. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women. JAMA 288:321-332.

Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. 2004. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women. JAMA 291:1701-1712.

Yaffe K, Sawaya G, Lierberburg I, Grady D. 1998. Estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women: effects on cognitive function and dementia. JAMA 279:688-695.

Zandi PP, Carlson MC, Plassman BL, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Mayer LS, Steffens DC, Breitner JCS, for the Cache County Memory Study Investigators. 2002. Hormone replacement therapy and incidence of Alzheimer Disease in older women: the Cache County study. JAMA 288:2123-2129.

Ziel HK, Finkle WD. 1975. Increased risk of endometrial carcinoma among users of conjugated estrogens. N Engl J Med 293:1167-1170.


  • While the author of this artical blythly says that the study included women between 50 and 70 he does not mention that the vast majority were between 60 and 70 well beyond average menopause , dispite the fact that the alleged purpose was to test the effectivenes of treating PM symptoms

    This was apparently driven by the obsessive requirement for a double blind study which could not be conducted on women with PM symptoms (the test subjects would know wheteher or not they got the real stuff
    The result was a completely bogus study that in fact discouraged women who would have been helped from taking this therepy and which has undoubetly resulted in many excess deaths

    all in the name of the sacred "double blind study"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/16/2006 08:16:00 PM  

  • Thank you for not actually reading the article. If you had, you would have noticed that I said:

    Secondly, these studies were initiated in women who had been postmenopausal for a number of years, which suggests that they might have missed the “window of opportunity” where they could have received the most benefit from treatment. Additionally, many of the women in the study also displayed risk factors for the major outcomes of the study, which could have put them at increased risk for the negative consequences for the use of HRT.

    And, had you read the WHI studies, you would also know that there was no increased mortality due to treatment. Being in a treatment group did not make a subject more likely to die.

    You really need to get your facts straight and drop the hyperbole. The studies were far from completely bogus; they demonstrated the significant problem with using two specific forms of HRT (Premarin or Prempro) as an indefinite treatment for menopausal symptoms or Alzheimer's Disease. The net effect of these studies will be to save lives and prevent significant complications in the future. I suggest you read my first post on the matter; it implicitly lays the blame where it belongs-- with Wyeth.

    By Blogger Evil Monkey, at 3/16/2006 08:39:00 PM  

  • Also, the purpose of the WHI studies was not to test the efficacy of HRT on menopausal symptoms. It was to establish whether or not HRT was beneficial in treating the major epidemiological outcomes associated with menopause; namely, things like cardivascular health and osteoporosis, for which a double blind study was necessary and a woman wouldn't be aware of anyway, placebo or treatment group. Even if the study was, as you said, about menopausal symptoms, a prospective, controlled, double-blind study is still valid.

    This too was already laid out in the article.

    By Blogger Evil Monkey, at 3/16/2006 08:58:00 PM  

  • I completely agree, EM. The double-blind ramdomized controlled study is a very appropriate study design to address this research question. However, the previous commenter does raise what I believe is a valid issue. Many people involved in clinical research believe that the double-blind RCT is the holy grail of epidemiologic research and that, as such, it is immune by design to the problems inherent in observational studies. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, the WHI study ended up being conducted in a study population for whom this type of treatment really is not valid (i.e. mostly older women). Therefore, the results really are not generalizable to the population of women to whom we are interested in applying the treatment.

    The real problem here is that quite a lot of researchers will not look at these subtleties. They will merely accept these results as fact, assuming that HRT is bad and should not be used, simply because this study was a RCT. The belief that all RCTs reveal THE TRUTH and that they are inherently better than observational studies needs to be reexamined. A poorly conducted RCT (which I believe the WHI study was) can be just as misleading as a poorly conducted observational study. Researchers need to be just as vigilant in their methods when conducting a RCT as they are when conducting observational studies. Perhaps even more vigilant given that people tend to place more trust in their results.

    Sorry for the rant! I'm kind of brain dead right now after taking finals. I'm sure I could have been more concise, but there you go!

    By Blogger epigirl, at 3/16/2006 11:03:00 PM  

  • I do have to disagree on one point: the way Prempro is being marketed, the study population does represent a subset of the drug's target population. The results are directly applicable to them, especially since women who have not take HRT might reconsider this option as they start to experience the effects of age.

    But other than that, spot on. :)

    By Blogger Evil Monkey, at 3/17/2006 10:50:00 AM  

  • Evil Monkey

    Just writing that cracks me up!! I love it.

    So my next question, and I will look harder to see if this is addressed anywhere else, is how are infections and monthly cycles related. What effect does your period have on bacterial or viral infections. Does estrogen make an infection grow?

    Seriously, I have a personal interest in this question. I also am extremely curious, because some women have a heck of a time with zits at certain times of the month. Zits are caused by Acne Bacterias, and seem cyclical. It seems that migraine can be like this too- and if there is inflammatory processes involved in migraine then it could follow that this is why these things happen.

    I love this series, and am so glad that you have delved into these things as much as you have----

    Patiently Waiting!!!

    By Blogger Impatient Patient, at 3/19/2006 09:48:00 PM  

  • Hormones are perfectly manageable if you know how to restore the balance. Here is the article I recommend - you can fix your hormonal health by just changing the diet plus some other secrets that you won't find anywhere else. Check it out if you want to be healthy!

    By Anonymous Hormonal Health Expert, at 8/22/2007 02:13:00 AM  

  • really very informative blog
    here i would love to share a blog
    about women health and tubal ligation
    u can get lot of knowledge
    from here

    By Anonymous tubal reversal, at 11/16/2009 03:59:00 AM  

  • Hi,
    I am the editor with I really liked your site and i am interested in building a relationship with your site. We want to spread public awareness. I hope you can help me out. Your site is a very useful resource.

    Please email me back with your URl in subject line to take a step ahead and also to avoid spam.

    Thank you,
    Sofia Vergez

    By Blogger Sofia, at 1/14/2010 12:51:00 PM  

  • Thanks for making such a killer blog. I arrive on here all the time and am floored with the fresh information here!You are great!

    By Anonymous 4d ultrasounds, at 5/24/2011 12:29:00 PM  

  • a very good article. i love it, thanks

    By Anonymous tubal reversal surgery, at 5/24/2011 01:46:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home