This article does a good job of providing helpful and accurate context for these new findings from the estrogen-only portion of the Women’s Health Initiative. It clearly explains that the information applies only to women who have had a hysterectomy, particularly those with severe menopause symptoms. However, other options available for dealing with hot flashes and night sweats are not mentioned, nor is the cost of estrogen.
It also digs into the results, noting that the risk of breast cancer was slightly higher in estrogen users who were at higher risk to begin with, and that women taking estrogen had more abnormal mammograms and breast biopsies. Providing the actual numbers of women who developed cancer (and strokes or blood clots) and who needed further testing to check out abnormal mammograms would have been useful. Women trying to use this new information to help them decide how to manage their menopause symptoms would likely want to know. The risk of stroke with estrogen therapy could have been emphasized as a consideration.
The article is appropriately cautious about the ‘eventual’ development of tests that might better help target who can safely use estrogen and who cannot.
The article does not mention costs of estrogen.
The article does not include any information on the numbers of women who developed breast cancer, neither among the 2 main groups of women nor among those at high risk. Also no mention of the effectiveness of estrogen at relieving menopause symptoms.
The article notes that the estrogen-only part of the Women’s Health Initiative was stopped early because the women taking estrogen had an increased risk of stroke. (But it also could have mentioned that possible harm again as a factor that women should consider when deciding about therapy for their menopausal symptoms.) Blood clots, another possible side effect of estrogen therapy, are mentioned only briefly.
The article provides background on earlier results from the study that helps put the new findings into context.
No elements of disease mongering. Article clearly states that estrogen therapy is an option for treating severe menopause symptoms; it does not overstate the number of women entering menopause nor does it imply that they all will experience severe symptoms that warrant treatment.
Cites a lead researcher from the trial and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Missing the perspective of an independent expert without ties to the study.
Other options for managing menopause symptoms are not noted.
It is clear from the article that estrogen is readily available.
The article provides context that makes it clear that this is not a new therapy.
It does not appear that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.