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 -
Read Original Story

Hormone replacement tied to lower colon cancer risk


5 Star

Hormone replacement tied to lower colon cancer risk

Our Review Summary

In only 546 words, this story covered most of the bases – providing absolute data from a big trial, saying that the findings support earlier theories, but warning that this does not change earlier advice about HRT.


Why This Matters

This story was judicious and cautious – two important characteristics in discussing hormone replacement therapy and colon cancer.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The cost of hormone replacement therapy is not in question. 

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

The story gave absolute data: 

Of the 34,433 HRT users, 193 were diagnosed with colon cancer during the study period; that compared with 151 cases among the 13,778 women who had never used hormone replacement.

HRT — with either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin — was linked to a lower colon cancer risk even when the researchers accounted for the women’s age, weight, exercise levels and race.


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


The story did state, "a large U.S. government study in 2002 found that postmenopausal women given HRT had higher risks of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots than women given an inactive placebo."  And we think that’s sufficient in this case.

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


Good job explaining the evidence, explaining that the findings"support the theory that estrogen offers some protection against colon cancer" but then stating clearly, "However, no one is recommending that women take HRT to ward off colon cancer."  The story also discussed one physiological theory that has been forwarded to explain what COULD be happening to lower colon cancer risk.  But no sensational claims or projections were made.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


Not a problem in this story.

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

Not Satisfactory

The only source cited was the lead author/researcher.  We always wish stories would include an independent expert voice for additional perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story at least discussed other colon cancer risk factors: 

Older age and African-American race are risk factors for colon cancer, and there is evidence linking obesity and a sedentary lifestyle to the disease as well.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

The availability of hormone replacement therapy is not in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story did a decent job putting the new study in context, explaining, "Some past studies have linked not only HRT, but also use of birth control pills, to a lower colon cancer risk" 

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


There’s no evidence that this story relied on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 8 Satisfactory


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