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General News    H2'ed 9/21/17

Do You Remember This Pharma Hoax Against Women? It Is Coming Back (Part One)

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   6 comments, In Series: Pharma
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How did menopause become a "disease" and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) the "cure"? It began with a bestselling book in 1966 called Feminine Forever by Robert A. Wilson, a Wyeth-funded gynecologist (Wyeth was bought by Pfizer.) The book referred to postmenopausal women as "flabby," "shrunken," "dull- minded," and "desexed," and warned that "no woman can be sure of escaping the horror of this living decay."

This attitude was supported by a medical establishment that had already cast women as "neurotic" if they were divorced, didn't have children, were too attached to their dads, didn't keep clean houses, used the phone too much, bit their fingernails or nagged their husbands. Many medical journal ads in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, when doctors were still mostly men, degraded and trivialized women with headlines like "If She Calls You Morning . . . Noon . . . and Night Day After Day," recommending psychoactive drugs. Journal ads said women had "outlived their ovaries" (pictured) and actually recommended electroconvulsive therapy also known as shock therapy for the disease of menopause.

Pharma used sexism and agism to sell hormone replacement
Pharma used sexism and agism to sell hormone replacement
(Image by Martha Rosenberg)
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Of course, most people know by now that the "H" in HRT stood for hoax because not only didn't the drug prevent "age-related diseases" as ads said, it caused many of them. A federal study in 2002 found that HRT increased the risk of breast cancer by 26 percent, heart attacks by 29 percent, stroke by 41 percent, and it doubled the risk of blood clots. In a related study published the next year, HRT doubled the risk of dementia in women, and in a separate study, the brains of older women who were given HRT actually shrunk.

Women on HRT are more likely to lose their hearing; to develop gall bladder disease, urinary incontinence, asthma, and melanoma; and to need joint replacement, according to medical journal articles. They are at greater risk for ovarian, endometrial, and lung cancers and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Not only does HRT increase the risk of breast cancer, but it also makes detecting breast cancer more difficult. In 1995, an article in the journal Radiology said that "an increase in mammographic density" was demonstrated in most subjects undergoing continuous combined HRT." By 2008, the abnormal mammograms associated with HRT were so well known, researchers warned that, "this adverse effect on breast cancer detection should be incorporated into risk-benefit discussions with women considering even short-term combined hormone therapy." Hormone replacement therapy increased the risk of lobular breast cancer in just three years and also increased the risk of fatalities among women with lung cancer. So much for the fountain of youth.

In 1975, an FDA panel found a link between the estrogen Premarin and endometrial cancer and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicted estrogen therapy for increasing the risk of endometrial cancer by at least five times. "Long-term use of conjugated estrogen increases the risk of both localized and widespread endometrial cancer," reported the NEJM. When women quit Premarin en masse in the 1970s because of its cancerous side effects "There was a sharp downward trend in the incidence of endometrial cancer that paralleled a substantial reduction in prescriptions for replacement estrogens," reported the NEJM in 1979.

Flash forward to 2003 when women again quit HRT, this time the drug Prempro. The incidence of breast cancer in the United States fell 7 percent and 15 percent among women whose tumors were fed by estrogen. Yes Pharma was causing cancer. Fourteen thousand women who were expected to get breast cancer didn't, reported researchers, and the largest breast cancer reductions, 11 percent in California, correlated with the highest HRT use.

Just because Pharma used sexism and agism to sell a drug that sometimes killed women doesn't mean it will stop. There is too much money in a drug that half the aging population might take----so watch for a revival of this deadly marketing.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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