Cancer Revelations Don’t Deter Hormone Mongering

The bad news at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Orlando is women on hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) who develop lung cancer are 60 percent more likely to die from it. The findings are from continued tracking of participants in the federal Women’s Health Initiative study which was terminated in 2002 because of adverse effects.

But the good news according to hormone maker Wyeth’s Joseph Camardo, MD is that younger women, aged 51 to 54, are starting to use HRT rather than women older than 63 and “the same risks may not apply with the new patterns of use!”

The “timing” theory–that discredited hormone therapy still has benefits for younger women–is gaining traction in articles and marketing materials thanks to industry sponsored studies showing “new” cognitive, heart and metabolic benefits. In fact in May the Washington Post reprinted such HRT revisionism from the “news source” of the Massachusetts General Hospital website where it was flanked by an article about HRT’s heart benefits–written by a Wyeth paid doctor–and an exploration of HRT’s “cancer question.” Five thousand women with Prempro and Premarin injury suits wouldn’t call it a question.

Doctors at a Philippine Society of Climacteric Medicine convention this month in San Juan City are similarly re-enamored with HRT according to the Philippine news site tribuneonline, claiming it shields women from cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cognitive disorders, dementia, skin atrophy, atherosclerosis and even urge-stress incontinence–abjuring the science.

“The beneficial effects of HRT in younger postmenopausal women appear to be due to HRT’s ability to increase high-density lipoproteins (“good” fats) and reduce low-density lipoproteins (“bad” fats), glucose, weight, insulin levels, the incidence of new onset diabetes and a handful of other risk factors for heart diseases,” says Shelley R. Salpeter, MD, clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and a Wyeth paid consultant according to the American Journal of Medicine.

Last summer the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth also took a second look at HRT with a continuing medical education course titled a “A Fresh Look at Hormone Therapy,” chaired by James A. Simon, MD a consultant and paid speaker for Wyeth according to course materials.

“Estrogen deficiency, the hallmark of menopause, can diminish a woman’s quality of life,” begins the course’s audacious “monograph” as it it were still 1966 and Feminine Forever, were a bestseller–whereupon it also segues into HRT’s “cardioprotective” properties, a decades long marketing claim never approved by the FDA and therefore illegal.

Of course, most people realize that HRT causes most of the conditions it was supposed to prevent–the H stands for hoax–and was hardly the fountain of youth it was marketed as for 40 years. In fact HRT is so dangerous, WHI was stopped so no more women would sustain its adverse side effects.

Instead of preventing heart disease, it increases risk by 26 percent.

Instead of preventing stroke, it increases the risk by 41 percent.

Instead of preventing breast cancer, it increases the risk by 29 percent.

Instead of preventing blood clots, it doubles the risk.

And there’s more. Hormone therapy also increases the risk of ovarian cancer, dementia, asthma, malignant melanoma, urinary incontinence, gout, the need for joint replacement, gallbladder disease, dying of lung cancer, a shrinking brain and complicates diabetes according to other studies.

Nor do the adverse effects happen slowly. Findings from last year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium show HRT doubles the risk for breast cancer in just five years and increases the risk in just two years.

HRT is such a preventable cause of disease among women, US breast-cancer cases fell 7 percent and estrogen-positive cases 15 percent as soon as women turned their backs on HRT–sparing 14,000 women the first year. Cases of US women having heart attacks fell too according to the journal Medical Care and CNN. Such much for cardioprotective.

Now that HRT is recommended for the briefest possible use (if at all), hormone makers aren’t proclaiming women should be on it from “menopause to death,” like Wyeth’s former CEO Robert Essner rhapsodized during HRT’s golden age when Wyeth pocketed a cool $3 billion a year “replacing” women’s hormones.

They now use the term “menopause transition” hoping the transition will last five years.

But whether women are prescribed HRT, seizure medications, antidepressants or the electroconvulsive therapy which was also once popular for menopause, the take home message is aging is a disease in women and they need medication.

And the “timing” theory is all about the timing of revenue.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her first book, titled Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, has just been released by Prometheus Books. She can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net. Read other articles by Martha.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rosemarie jackowski said on June 1st, 2009 at 2:31pm #

    Good article.
    Most doctors prescribed HRT for a long time. Many informed women never filled the prescription. The bottom line is that you can’t fool Mother Nature. Increasing age happens. Fresh air, sunshine, Vitamins D and E usually are all that should be necessary for most women.
    The rule is – never pop a pill unless you are willing to accept all of the side affects.

  2. Barry99 said on June 1st, 2009 at 6:42pm #

    It’s not quite a matter of not popping a pill unless willing to accept the side effects. Hormone replacement therapy was a gigantic marketing effort by the drug companies and physicians. Estrogen was presented as the answer to becoming an old hag, a way to preserve a woman’s youthful girlishness, a way to keep yourself attractive. It’s a fraud perpetrated on women – and it is a deadly fraud.

  3. Tennessee-Chavizta said on June 1st, 2009 at 7:18pm #

    There are scientific studies which say that a diet of zero carbohydrates can cure cancer tumors. But you know how capitalists are most doctors in the USA. The US capitalist medical system never talk about diets with their patients. There is an anti-healthy diet conspiracy by most capitalist doctors. They never prescribe diet and exercise for their patients, but instead they prescribe pills and chemicals.

    .

  4. rosemarie jackowski said on June 3rd, 2009 at 9:21am #

    Barry99…Of course HRT is a scam brought to us by the pharma/physician complex. I thought that everybody knew that.

    In addition, we have a culture that marginalizes any woman with gray hair and wrinkles. HRT is easier and cheaper than cosmetic surgery, and so it is an easy sell.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 3rd, 2009 at 6:44pm #

    Could there be a clearer example of market capitalism’s innate viciousness and intrinsic evil? I suppose you could mention the continued pushing of infant formula in the poor world, that kills thousands of babies, or perhaps the military-industrial and prison-industrial complexes might suffice. Then again there is capitalist ‘agribusiness’ with its pushing of genetically engineered crops, deliberate narrowing of the gene pool for most foods and attempts to outlaw seed sharing. Not to mention forcing toxic food, including milk laced with insulin-like growth factor, a primary carcinogen, down our and our children’s throats. Or perhaps the business financed denialist industries, that falsely refuted the harms of tobacco smoking, asbestos, DDT, toxic pesticides and herbicides and greenhouse gas pollution from burning fossil fuels, may take your fancy. One could go on all day. The sad truth is that, unless these evil psychopaths who will do anything, tell any lie, breach every law of morality and decency, in the febrile rush to rip greater and greater profits from the fabric of people’s lives, are removed from all positions of power, and the evil, cancerous system that they erected to mirror their dead souls is destroyed and replaced with something humane and sustainable, then we are doomed to see humanity’s end, within decades. All the avenues for easy ways out have been closed. It’s us, and our children and grandchildren, or them.