Avoiding estrogen therapy led to deaths of nearly 50,000 women, study says

Doctors believe that misconceptions
about the risks of estrogen therapy have
led to the premature deaths of nearly
50,000 women in the past 10 years, the
Los Angeles Times reported.
Estrogen therapy has long been a
controversial topic in the medical world.
Before 2002, more than 90 percent of
women who underwent a hysterectomy
were treated with some type of hormone
therapy, to help manage symptoms
related to early menopause triggered by
the procedure.
However, in 2002, a Women’s Health
Initiative (WHI) study suggested that
combination estrogen-progesterone
treatments could potentially increase
women’s risk for cancer and other health
issues.
In the 10 years after that study was
published, the numbers of women
choosing to receive any type of hormone
treatment post-hysterectomy dropped
dramatically.
Now, in a study published in the
American Journal of Public Health,
researchers are arguing that
misconceptions about hormonal
treatments also led women to reject
estrogen-only treatments, which have
numerous health benefits including
reduced mortality and lower incidences of
breast cancer and heart disease.
Using data to analyze a population of
women ages 50 to 59 who had undergone
hysterectomies, researchers estimated
that up to 48,835 women died
prematurely between 2002 and 2011
because they failed to use estrogen
therapy treatments, the Los Angeles Times
reported.
“What has happened is an avoidance of
use of estrogen, not because of the
[study] findings, but because of the way
they were communicated and
understood,” lead study author Dr. Philip
Sarrel said, in a video interview released
Thursday by Yale. “None of those women
lived to be 70 years old. They were all
women aged 50 to 59 who would have
used estrogen but did not use it,” because
of unfounded fears, he added.