Beware ‘HRT is safe’ headlines

Please don’t ignore! HRT is dangerous and does cause breast cancer.

HRT manufacturers & the media

In October, the findings of unpublished research funded by Pfizer (manufacturers of HRT) were picked up by an unnamed account executive at the world’s 2nd largest PR company, Weber Shandwick.

Many of the UK newspapers, including, The Mirror, The Telegraph and The Guardian, reported that the study involved 80 women who took HRT and that the ‘women taking HRT were no more likely to develop breast cancer, heart disease or diabetes than any other women who did not take the treatment.’

Meanwhile, in the UK, Weber Shandwick released a survey funded by Mylan Pharmaceutical (who make HRT) stating 27 percent of 1,000 women surveyed stayed clear of HRT because of the health scare surrounding it.

Together, the unpublished Pfizer research and the Weber Shandwick survey made a big splash with the UK press where we saw bold headlines stating that HRT was safe.

Here is how the Daily Mail covered it, “Doctors said women can finally take HRT with confidence, after years of fear that it may cause serious side-effects.. NHS watchdog NICE is due to publish new advice next month, and is expected to order GPs to significantly expand the number of women they consider for the drug.”

Ridiculous coverage

The author of the Pfizer funded research, Lila Nachtigall, condemned the “ridiculous” coverage in the British press. She said the study had been about body composition, looking at where women accumulated fat if they put on weight during their course of HRT, and not cancer. She found it interesting that none had developed cancer, but “we made it very clear it was not a study. It was just an observation,” she said. See article quoting Lila Nachtigall, MD here.

Cancer fears remain

The Guardian, has now reported, the concerns and fears of scientists and cancer charities, including Prof Valerie Beral, who leads the Million Women study, and Cancer Research UK, who are deeply concerned that recent headlines are misleading.

“The study presenting a positive case for the use of HRT was by no means comprehensive, drawing on the experience of just 80 women who had been taking the drugs and had not suffered from cancer or any other side-effects. But the evidence that breast and ovarian cancer risks rise with HRT was the result of two far-reaching studies by the Women’s Health Initiative in the US and the Million Women study at Oxford, which is funded by the cancer charity.”

Professor Valerie Beral of Oxford University, runs one of the largest studies to look into HRT risks and can be heard discussing the findings on BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme here (listen from 2 hours, 50 mins).

Changes to HRT guidance

Are the PR companies and media preparing us to to accept conventional HRT as a safe option for menopause? The new NICE guidelines will be published in November and will include recommendations based on the benefits and risks of treatment with HRT.

Do you agree with the Daily Mail? Will GP’s be ordered to significantly expand the number of women offered the drug?

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