The following is a synopsis of the North American Menopause Society’s (NAMS) October 3, 2002 report on two recent studies of estrogen-progestin therapy for postmenopausal women. Even though the studies evaluated only one hormone combination, NAMS concluded that they are the first well-controlled, adequately powered reports.
The Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) was a 4-year randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study of 2,763 postmenopausal women (average age 67) with documented coronary heart disease (CHD), while the Women’s Health Initiate (WHI), begun in 1993, looked at 16,608 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79.
The WHI study was divided into two sections, a continuous-combined estrogen-progestogen therapy (CCEPT) section for women with a uterus, and an estrogen-only therapy (ET) section for women who had undergone a hysterectomy. The CCEPT section of WHI was terminated in July 2002 after 5 years of follow-up, because the overall risks exceeded the benefits. The ET arm of WHI continues, as do ancillary WHI studies evaluating memory, dementia, low-fat diet, calcium, and vitamin D.