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Hormone use: Studies suggest two years max

Rating

5 Star

Hormone use: Studies suggest two years max

Our Review Summary

Hormone therapy remains the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness). However, it is clear that taking hormone therapy has certain risks – stroke, heart attack, blood clots – and if taken for five years – breast cancer. New studies and analyses indicate that the breast cancer risk associated with hormone therapy goes up after 3 years and now women are being advised to stop taking the medication after 2 years if they wish to avoid this risk. Whether 2 years or 3 years should be the right cut-off for stopping hormone therapy remains controversial. What is not controversial is that women can safely take hormone therapy for short periods of time if they are bothered by menopausal symptoms, or chose among several other non-hormone therapy options.

This story does a good job of describing the design of the latest studies and pointing out that these "observational" retrospective survey studies are less reliable than more robust study designs.

The story adequately quantifies the increased risk of breast cancer. While the story does provide quantification in relative terms only for the WHI study (it mentions a 60% increase), it does use absolute numbers to quantify the increase in the American Cancer Society analysis (the story describes how the risk of breast cancer would increase from 1 in 52 to 1 in 26).

Everyone quoted was either involved in the study or works for the drug manufacturer. This is the main flaw in an otherwise high quality story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

It would not be necessary for the story to discuss the costs of hormone therapy.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately quantifies the increased risk in breast cancer. While the story does provide quantification in relative terms only for the WHI study (it mentions a 60% increase), it does use absolute numbers to quantify the increase in the American Cancer Society analysis (the story describes how the risk of breast cancer would increase from 1 in 52 to 1 in 26).

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

Satisfactory

The story mentions risk of stroke, heart disease and blood clots in addition to breast cancer.

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

Satisfactory

The story does a good job of describing the design of the current studies and pointing out that these "observational" retrospective survey studies are less reliable than more robust study designs.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of breast cancer.

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

Not Satisfactory

Everyone quoted was either involved in the study or works for the drug manufacturer. This is the main flaw in an otherwise high quality story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

Because the point of the story is to discuss the risk of breast cancer associated with hormone therapy, it would not be necessary for the story to mention alternative treatment options.

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

It’s clear there was enterprise reporting involved in this story.

Total Score: 7 of 8 Satisfactory

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