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Campaign Launched to Inform Women of HRT Dangers

18 July 2002

Campaign Launched to Inform Women of the Dangers of HRT

The community group Women’s Health Action today launched a multi-pronged plan to inform women about the risks of hormone replacement therapy. Executive director of Women’s Health Action, Sandra Coney, said it had launched the campaign because the Minister of Health had completely failed to take the lead in informing New Zealand women and their doctors about the dangers of HRT.

The campaign consists of:

- A free pamphlet for women and doctors which summarises the key results of the Women’s Health Initiative trial.

- An HRT Hotline to answer women’s questions about HRT.

- A public meeting for women in Auckland.

- A website that links women to the study website.

- An information pack with the latest information on HRT.

Hotline number (09) 5232 478 or (09) 5232 HRT

“The Ministry of Health has failed to inform women and doctors,’ says Sandra Coney. “Many women we have heard from are confused and anxious. The information we are providing tells women what the WHI study found so women can make informed decisions about whether to continue HRT or not.’

Women’s Health Action had expected that the Ministry of Health would take responsibility for informing women and doctors, as it has in other situations, such as the risk of blood clots in users of the Pill and Diane-35.

In the present case, it is not taking any action at all, leaving the estimated 100,000 kiwi women on HRT worried and uncertain.

The WHI study was abruptly terminated because the health risks in users of combined HRT outweighed the potential benefits. In the first two years women showed increased risks of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, and in the fourth year a 26% increase in the risk of breast cancer. The study found a reduction of about a third in the risk of hip fractures, but concluded that there were more risks than benefits for women taking HRT.

In the US health authorities are advising women not to start or continue HRT for the prevention of osteoporosis or heart disease, and they are being advised to look at alternatives in the form of lifestyle changes and other safer medications.

Sandra Coney said she was shocked that NZ authorities and medical opinion leaders were not following this evidence-based US advice.

She emphasised that menopause was not a disease and that the vast majority of women experience menopause without problems or serious ill-health. “There are some women who have severe hot flushes, but they are very few,’ she said. “The vast majority of women do not need to take serious risks with their health to be well at the menopause.’

Women’s Health Action aims to provide women with information about menopause that is based on the results of the WHI study and other good quality research. Sandra Coney said it was ironical that a community-based group had taken this action, rather than the people the public expected to give such information.


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