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Time to name and shame

April 4, 2012

Biased opinions about HT*

Thanks to Ellen Grant for alerting me to this in PLOS Medicine. The background is that there is good evidence that post menopausal hormone therapy (HT) causes breast cancer, and does not protect against cardiovascular disease – it may even increase that as well. Overall it does more harm than good. Correct advice to women should be:

Avoid if possible. If you must take it for relief of hot flushes, take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.

The manufacturers don’t like that, so they pay influential doctors in the hope that they will write biased articles downplaying the risks.  It seems to be working.  Articles promoting HT were 2.4 times (95% confidence interval 1.5-4.9) more likely to have authors with conflicts of interest than those without.

The dodgy authors were named and shamed.  Here they are:

Leon Speroff. Oregon Health Sciences University
Thomas B. Clarkson. Wake Forest University School of Medicine, North Carolina
Peter Kenemans. Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Rogerio A. Lobo. Columbia University Medical Center. New York.
David M. Herrington. Wake Forest Medical Center, North Carolina.
Marius J. van der Mooren.Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
Rowan T. Chlebowski. University of California, Los Angeles
Susan R. Davis. Monash University.

Big names all, and I doubt they’re the only ones. We’ll return to this subject.

Jim Thornton

*Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) changed to hormone therapy (HT) Jan 2016

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 8:48 pm

    I think your blog is fascinating – a wonderfully eclectic mix.

    I’m heading for the menopause and trying to be relaxed about it, but there’s so much fear and horror surrounding what is inescapably a sign of ageing. I wonder the extent to which the cultural pressure to remain ‘youthful’ in appearance (or to pretend you’re still 25) is related to the medicalisation (horrible word) of a normal life-process, and thence to the severity of the effects of the menopause.

    I already have breast cancer, thankfully caught in time, and have no intention of taking HRT. My mother continued to take her HRT through her treatment for breast cancer in the early ’90s because she felt her life wasn’t worth living without it. Now she’s two years in with an aggressive new breast cancer and has been through far worse than menopausal symptoms in consequence. Of course we don’t know whether she’d have developed the cancer without the HRT, but certainly her risks were raised.

    I think it’s so important for people to understand the complexity of risk, but few do and of course that suits Big Pharma just fine. Thanks for challenging them.

  2. October 22, 2013 1:31 pm

    Just discovered this is not the first time that Rogerio Lobo from Columbia has got involved in dodgy science.


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