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    More than 50% Have Dropped HRT Treatment

    Study Suggests more than Half Stopped, but Many Started Back Again

    Women Got the Wrong Impression continued...

    "Quite honestly, the results from the (trial) could have been reported as the glass is half full or half empty," Utian tells WebMD. "They chose to present them as half empty, and many women have suffered as a result."

    Utian agrees that the experience can be seen as an indictment of the way government officials have presented medical information, and he said as much last October during a speech to the NIH leadership.

    "I told them that while these data would be discussed and debated for years to come, the manner in which the termination was announced was abrupt, poorly planned, and inhumane," he says. "And I stand by that."

    Are too few Women on HRT?

    The New Zealand study, reported in the Oct. 11 issue of the British Medical Journal, included nearly 800 women who were on hormone replacement therapy prior to the cessation of the NIH trial. The women were surveyed six months after the trial was halted, and 40% said they no longer took HRT because of the findings. Of the 132 women (18%) who stopped and then restarted HRT, 100 said they did so because of the return of menopause symptoms, 16 because they "felt better" on the therapy, and 15 cited other reasons.

    Utian says he believes the figures represent a fairly good approximation of what has happened in the United States.

    "Most doctors who treat women going through menopause have had the same experience," he says. "Many, many of their patients stopped (HRT) because of the press reports, but then went back on it later because of quality-of-life issues. I would guess that one in five or even one in four of the women who stopped started back."

    Utian and Lawton agree than many other menopausal women who could benefit from hormone replacement therapy are still unnecessarily frightened of the treatment.

    "What I see a lot of these days, which I never saw two years ago, is women who have just decided to tough it out," Lawton says. "They have put up with a year or more of symptoms like hot flashes or not sleeping at night because they thought they had to. But the risks for these women are very small compared to the benefits."

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