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Women's Health

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Poll: Women in HRT Daze

Confusion Abounds Amid Hormone Replacement Therapy Controversy

WebMD Health News

Dec. 12, 2002 -- Women may have heard more about hormone replacement therapy from the media and their friends in recent months, but that doesn't mean they feel any more informed about the benefits and the risks of HRT.

A new survey shows women are almost equally divided about whether they now know more about HRT or are more confused than ever about the issue that made headlines in July after the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study of the most commonly used estrogen-progestin HRT medication was halted because the risks outweighed the benefits. Researchers found women who used the hormones had fewer colon cancers and hip fractures than those on placebo, but they had a higher risk of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke.

The nationwide telephone survey, which was commissioned by Partnership for Prevention (a non-profit health policy research organization), was conducted October 18-21 and included 1,003 women between the ages of 55 and 70.

Researchers found 27% of women said recent reports made them feel more informed about HRT, but another 24% said they were more confused.

"The results suggest that women still need help sorting out this information, but they and their doctors aren't communicating as well as they could about an important health issue," says Ashley Coffield, a senior fellow and research analyst at Partnership for Prevention, in a news release.

Seventy percent of the surveyed said they rely on their doctor or other healthcare provider for information about treatments for menopause and other aspects of aging; about 40% also said they rely on magazines and the news media for this information.

"We wish that more women could have said they know more about the risk and benefits of combined HRT, considering their reliance on doctors for information and after everything that's been written and said about the WHI findings," says Coffield.

About 25% of the women surveyed said the WHI findings prompted them either to stop taking HRT, consider stopping it, or to find another type of treatment.

Researchers say the good news is that most of the women who said they are worried about heart disease or osteoporosis are finding other ways to reduce their risk. The majority of women who were concerned about heart disease said they were modifying their diet and cutting back on high-fat food. And the majority of women concerned with osteoporosis said they're increasing their calcium intake to protect their bones.

SOURCE: Poll, "Women, Hormone Replacement Therapy and Disease Prevention," conducted by WomenTrend and commissioned by Partnership for Prevention. • News release, Partnership for Prevention. -->

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