This story highlighted a book written by the actress Suzanne Somers which appears to make claims about products derived from yams and soy for use in helping manage the symptoms of menopause. There was no information that a reader could use to evaluate any of the claims made other than the use of celebrity as marketing strategy.
The story was devoid of data, evidence, cost information, and in-depth clinical perspectives.
The article provides no cost estimate for bioidentical hormone replacement therapy; it does, however provide us with the price of Suzanne Somers book, "Ageless."
The possible benefits of the treatment are not quantified.
One clinician quote mentioned that these products are without FDA approval and he went on to say that they are ‘potentially quite dangerous’. However – this quote did not differentiate between the possibility that products failed to obtain FDA approval or whether they are exempt from seeking FDA approval (the latter is often the case). It would have been helpful to inform readers what sort of danger potential was being alluded and to provide some way to guage the actual type and size of the risk posed.
There is actress testimony about the benefits to be obtained through the use of bioidentical hormones.
One clinician is quoted as stating that these products ‘deliver renewed energy and reduced menopausal symptoms’. However – we are not given any sort of metric for gauging these benefits (is the effect seen in all women, some women, or a few women; how large is the effect observed – how was it measured, how long was treatment needed for the effect(s) to be realized). Furthermore – we are not given any sort of assurance that there is actual data supporting these claims.
Discussing menopause in terms of a battle "fighting off nasty symptoms" and describing life after menopause as "constant and progressive deterioration" are examples of disease-mongering language.
The line "…without hormones there is no quality of life" is another.
The major source of information for this article is an interview with the actress Suzanne Somers. Two physicians’ opinions are mentioned – in 84 words – but the actress’ opinions warranted 472 words.
The story opened with a statement about ‘the spigot to the hormone fountain of youth’ being ‘practically turned off’. This may have lead readers to conclude that hormone replacement therapy is unavailable or at best difficult to obtain; this is not an accurate representation.
The ails listed for menopause included symptoms that are not necessarily linked with menopause; further – there are treatments available for problems such as depression or weakening bones. The story made no mention of treatments other than those hyped in the book.
The headline and introduction to the story suggested that the focus would be bioidentical hormones. But they actually received little space in this article.
The story should have mentioned the controvery and confusion about the terminology "bioidenticals"; some are FDA-approved, but those most generally refer to the unregulated, individually compounded mixtures which are not FDA approved.
The treatment of symptoms of menopause with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is not new but the story never clearly established that. Even the claims made by the actress profiled in the story are not new; she published a 2004 book, "The Sexy Years: discover the hormone connection."
Does not appear to rely on a press release.