NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.
Read Original Story

Women who quit hormone therapy still live with cancer risk

Rating

4 Star

Women who quit hormone therapy still live with cancer risk

Our Review Summary

This story reports on an article published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association. The article presents follow-up data from the landmark Women’s Health Initiaive on the risks and benefits of hormone therapy. The new data shows that at three years after stopping hormone therapy, there was no increased risk of heart disease in the hormone therapy group, however the increase in breast cancer risk did persist at three years.

The story does not provide adequate details about alternatives to hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms or about lower-hormone options that could potentially confer less risk.

The story does not quantify the risks of hormone therapy, in absolute terms or otherwise. This is particularly important for this subject because the risks involved are realtively small. For example, in the study, the risk of breast cancer was less than one half of one percent per year in the hormone therapy group.

Furthermore, other than to describe the study as "sweeping", the story does not adequately describe the strength of the new evidence. Most importantly, the story does not explain that these findings do not necessarily apply to younger women who take hormone therapy for shorter periods of time.

Overall, in focusing solely on the risks of hormone therapy, this story implies that it is not a reasonable choice for women. In reality, when taken by women who are actively experiencing symptoms for short periods of time, hormone therapy is safe and effective.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

There was no discussion of the costs involved with hormone replacement therapy although, with a story about risks of HRT, it is somewhat understandable that a discussion of costs was not vital.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the risks of hormone therapy, in absolute terms or otherwise. This is particularly important for this subject because the risks involved are relatively small. For example, in the study, the risk of breast cancer was less than one half of one percent per year in the hormone therapy group.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story mentions blood clots, breast cancer, and heart attack as risks of hormone therapy.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Other than to describe the study as "sweeping" the story does not adequately describe the strength of the new evidence. Most importantly, the story does not explain that these findings do not necessarily apply to younger women who take hormone therapy for shorter periods of time.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes more than one expert.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story briefly mentions that "many women taking HRT are getting a treatment which is considered safer, often at half the dose and only for a couple of years" but that gives the viewer little information about what that option is or how much safer it may be.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly hormone therapy is not a new idea.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple experts, the viewer can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.