As I blogged previously, the National Institutes of Health Women’s Health Initiative Study (launched in 1993-95) had to be shut down in 2002, when it became clear the women in the Premarin/Prempro arm of the study were experiencing an unacceptably high rate of breast cancer, strokes, heart disease, and dementia (http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/03/25/wyeth-and-the-multibillion-dollar-menopause-industry/). The massive negative publicity this received caused seventy percent of American women to immediately stop their estrogen replacement therapy – resulting in a 7% reduction in new breast cancer cases over the next year.
Predictably, Wyeth’s response to all this negative publicity was to initiate a massive PR campaign discrediting the WHI study. They started with a letter to 500,000 doctors attacking the study, complaining that the women in the Premarin arm had other reasons for developing cancer – they were too old, too menopausal or weren’t checked for pre-existing heart disease (I find this ironic – in 2002 Wyeth was still aggressively promoting Premarin as a way to prevent heart disease). This was followed by articles attacking the study in various medical journals – articles published under the names of doctors specializing in women’s health which were actually ghost written by the company (see http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/9804/).
Many of the doctors were affiliated with the notorious Council on Hormone Education at University of Wisconsin (where 44 of the 64 doctors have financial ties to Wyeth) Wyeth founded in response to the 2002 WHI study. In 2006 the Council even began offering a continuing medical education course for doctors called “Quality of Life, Menopausal Changes and Hormonal Therapy” – heavily promoting estrogen replacement.
Consumers’ Only Protection Against Big Pharma
Lawsuits: consumers only weapon against Big Pharma
Wyeth’s massive campaign to discredit the 2002 WHI study, at the expense of tens of thousands who would start or continue estrogen replacement as a result of these misguided efforts, has clearly harmed their defense in the dozens or so of the 5000+ lawsuits that have made it through the courts.
Wyeth has yet to win a single lawsuit brought by women (or families of deceased women) who developed reproductive cancers as a result of taking Premarin or Prempro. Moreover there are still active information websites for affected women and/or families who have yet to file suit. If you or a loved one has developed breast, uterine or ovarian cancer as a result of taking Premarin or Prempro click here:
It’s Never Too Late to Stop Estrogen Replacement
Even more importantly, the WHI and subsequent studies all make it clear that even women who have been taking hormone replacement for years can still reduce their risk of cancer – if they stop now!
Moreover women can’t assume they reduce their risk of cancer by switching to plant-based or “natural” estrogens. Research strongly suggests that the estrogen itself – rather than it’s source – stimulates tumor growth.