It’s never been easy for a woman to face getting older, but it definitely doesn’t help when you suspect that the pharmaceutical industry is trying to take you out before your time. Okay, that’s probably overstating it, but not by much.
Last week, the New York Times announced the results of a new study on hormone treatment after menopause. Not only does hormone therapy raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, (as a groundbreaking study in 2002 revealed) but the follow-up study with 12,788 women shows the drugs also double a woman’s risk of dying of breast cancer. The information comes from the Women’s Health Initiative, a major federally-financed study that was spearheaded and insisted-upon by a fantastic group called the National Women’s Health Network.
The study examined the most commonly prescribed hormone replacement pill Prempro, that treats women in menopause for symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Before the 2002 findings (also spearheaded by NWHN), hormone replacement was being heralded and embraced by six million American women as a pharmaceutical way to fight back against menopause and stay young, sexy and healthy – until the dangerous downside (breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots) of the fountain of youth was revealed. Today, the number of women taking HRT has dropped by 50% and with this latest study, women who have to take the drug will hopefully know to take the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time.
Incredibly valuable, unbiased, scientific information like this is hard to come by on the Internet – which is what makes the National Women’s Health Network such a trusted resource. For 35 years, NWHN has been tirelessly advocating for women’s health by working with Congress, the National Institute of Health, and the FDA to give voice to the issues and concerns of all women. It accepts no money from the pharmaceutical industry and it has no agenda; its only special interest is the health of women.
I love the National Women’s Health Network for its mission to promote a critical analysis of health issues, its insistence upon evidence, its mission to reflect the health needs of a wide diversity of women, and its core belief that women’s normal physiological changes should not be unduly medicalized (as the pharmaceutical industry so passionately, tirelessly insists they should be). And yes, that does mean we’re probably all going to have to get older just as nature intended. Sorry.
Today, I’m donating $100 to support the superb work of the National Women’s Health Network and urging you to become a member, too –or at the very least, use it as a resource for unbiased information on issues as diverse as birth control, mammograms, osteoporosis and hormone therapy. Information is power, sisters –here’s to our health!