OTTAWA, Jan. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - A panel of Canada's top experts in women's
health and menopause has challenged the popular notion that hormone therapy
(HT) does more harm than good and have new, evidence-based advice for the
growing percentage of women experiencing menopause or post-menopause symptoms.
New clinical practice guidelines and updated research information about
menopause and osteoporosis, commissioned by the Society of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), have just been published in this month's
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada (JOGC).
"We needed to get at the real facts so we could provide quality advice to
women and their health-care providers based on evidence, particularly since
there has been so much confusion and contradictory information out there about
hormone therapy,"said Dr. Robert Reid, Professor Ob/Gyn, Chair of the Division
of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Queen's University, Kingston,
ON, lead author of the Update. "Not all women need HT, but many with
troublesome symptoms were needlessly scared away from that option due to
misunderstandings about the actual risks associated with it."
The SOGC commissioned this Update as a way to review clinical and
research developments since its 2006 Consensus Report on menopause, and to
address some of the enduring myths and misunderstandings generated by early
analysis and reporting about the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) research
results from 2002. The expert panel contends that the research world has now
placed the WHI results in context so they can be better understood. New
research, along with a re-analysis of the WHI data, shows that a lot has been
learned about menopause and its management over the past seven years.
"Unfortunately, the WHI study created fear that the short-term use of HT
for menopausal symptoms will increase your chances of getting breast cancer,"
said Dr. Reid. "We now see that concern about that risk is unfounded and is
the result of a distorted perspective about the influence of HT on breast
cancer." The panel's general advice to health-care providers is that HT is a
viable and safe option for many women if commenced early in a woman's
menopause and used over the short-term to alleviate troublesome symptoms such
as hot flushes.
As part of their update, the expert panel conducted a comprehensive
review of the WHI research and other studies published since 2002. The
Update's authors reviewed research that showed the positive impact of
lifestyle changes on controlling troublesome menopause symptoms, new
information about assessing osteoporosis risk, and the impact that menopause
can have on cardiovascular disease and cognitive function.
As well, the panel reviewed the original, worrisome WHI findings about HT
causing heart attacks in light of new information. The WHI study incorrectly
attributed cardiovascular risks found in older women to newly menopausal
women. The panel concluded that HT does not increase the risk of heart attack
in younger women experiencing menopause.
"More and more research literature points to the importance of timing
with respect to when estrogen use begins and its relation to risks for breast
cancer, heart disease and cognitive decline" said Dr. Jennifer Blake,
Professor Ob/Gyn, Chief Ob/Gyn, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Women's
College Hospital, Toronto, ON, and a co-author of the Update. "For example,
media reported recently that estrogen supplementation is linked to a greater
rate of cognitive decline. We need to look more closely at that study to see
that it pertained to older women who had never received estrogen until age 65.
The negative impact was not shown for women who had received estrogen in early
The Update also confirmed the debilitating impact that osteoporosis can
have on a woman's quality of life. "We now know that one in two women over 50
will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime,
which can cause chronic pain, reduced mobility, loss of independence, and
increased risk of death," said Dr. Aliya Khan, Professor of Clinical Medicine,
Division of Endocrinology and Geriatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON,
and co-author. "It is clear that the window for prevention needs to open at a
much earlier age to ensure that women are not sidelined in midlife by this
The panel emphasizes that even though menopause is a natural transition
in a woman's life, there is no "one size fits all approach" when it comes to
menopause symptoms or treatments. "Each woman will experience menopause
differently. They need the facts and they should be aware of the options
available to them during this transition in their lives," said Dr. Michel
Fortier, Professor Ob/Gyn, University of Laval, Quebec, QC, and co-author.
"There is a lot women can do for themselves to address distressing symptoms.
But if they need more help, they should talk to their physician and not be
frightened about hormone therapy and other treatment options that might be
right for them."
The release of this Update complements other education and
information-sharing SOGC encourages within the gynaecological and obstetrical
profession to ensure that health-care practitioners have access to the most
current clinical evidence.
For More Information
The complete Clinical Update and media backgrounder are available from
the SOGC website at http://www.sogc.org/media/advisories-20090122_e.asp
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) will
provide media with access to the authors of the Clinical Update via a
technical briefing/webcast hosted today at 10:00 am EST. The webcast will
explain key findings from the clinical review, with a focus on hormone
therapy, osteoporosis, cardiac health and cognitive function.
Date: Thursday, January 22, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m. Bilingual presentation
10:20 a.m. Media question and answer session
Access Numbers: 613-287-8002
English - http://www.newswire.ca/en/webcast/viewEvent.cgi?eventID=2524060
French - http://www.cnw.ca/webcast/viewEvent.cgi?eventID=2524060
- Chair, Dr. Robert L. Reid, Professor Ob/Gyn, Chair of the Division of
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Queen's University,
- Dr. Jennifer M. Blake, Professor Ob/Gyn, Chief Ob/Gyn, Sunnybrook
Health Sciences Centre and Women's College Hospital, Toronto, ON
- Dr. Michel Fortier, Professor Ob/Gyn, University of Laval, Quebec, QC
- Dr. Aliya Khan, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Division of
Endocrinology and Geriatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON
Spokespeople will also be available for media interviews when the webcast
About the SOGC
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) is one
of Canada's oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the
Society's mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and
gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy,
collaboration, outreach and education. The SOGC represents
obstetricians/gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied
health professionals working in the field of sexual reproductive health. For
more information, visit www.sogc.org.
About the SOGC's Menopause Education and Awareness Program
The SOGC's Menopause Education and Awareness Program was established to
provide Canadian women and their health-care providers with up-to-date
accessible information based on scientific evidence. Activities of the Program
include a website, menopauseandu.ca, a national Menopause Coalition
representing national organizations with an interest in women's health,
continuing medical education, and outreach activities that raise awareness
about menopause and osteoporosis.
For further information:
For further information: Media: Lisa Robertson, (613) 739-7032; Susan
Wright, (613) 730-2020