The undying pursuit of trying to find goodness in the devil incarnate
BY JANE ALLIN
Yet again another study attempting to promote the benefits of conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) derived HRT. Or should I use the “new” acronym – MHT – or menopausal hormone treatment?
No doubt more propaganda to distance the facts from the clever marketing strategies to further muddle the minds of middle-aged women.
A recent press release from Dr. Timothy Bilash of Solana Beach CA, who specializes in women’s health issues, encourages women of all ages to attend an informational talk regarding a study claiming that there is a reduced incidence of breast cancer while taking estrogen.
- “On Tuesday, June 25th at 7:00 p.m. (repeating on Saturday June 29th at 1:00 p.m.), Dr Tim Bilash, a Solana Beach OB/BYN will explain the DNA repair protein associated with BRCA-1 and its association with breast cancer. In addition, he will present the findings of a twelve-year follow-up from the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), reporting that women who take conjugated estrogens demonstrate a twenty-three percent reduction in breast cancer risk, and an astonishing sixty-three percent death-rate reduction among those who did develop breast cancer”.
Astounding! What wonderful news.
The study Dr. Bilash is referring to appeared online in the journal Lancet Oncology in March of 2012 and was authored by Garnet L. Anderson PhD., “Conjugated equine oestrogen and breast cancer incidence and mortality in postmenopausal women with hysterectomy: extended follow-up of the Women’s Health Initiative randomised placebo-controlled trial.”
Essentially, this was a follow-up study of the WHI detailing the results of 7,645 women, ages 50-79 without a family history of breast cancer, who had undergone a hysterectomy and were using estrogen-only HRT for menopausal symptoms. These women were part of the 11,000 original cohort of the estrogen-only branch of the WHI study that was aborted in 2004 due to increased risks of stroke and blood clots. In this new study the researchers followed these women for about five years after the trial ended in which about half had taken estrogen-only HRT and half a placebo.
The results of the study showed that 151 women who took estrogen-only HRT developed invasive breast cancer compared to 199 women who took a placebo while 6 women on the estrogen-only HRT died from breast cancer versus 16 who took a placebo. Of note however is that women in the same group who were at higher risk of developing breast cancer as a result of behavioral, genetic or family history did not receive any cancer protection benefits from the estrogen-only HRT. The therapy still poses a risk of stroke, blood-clotting disorders, dementia, gall-bladder disease, etc. and a host of other cancers particularly endometrial and uterine cancer for those women who have not undergone a hysterectomy.
Clearly there are still risks to be had, yet as expected these are understated and the new results applauded. Add to this the following comment from the authors that seems to suggest that for whatever reason the tide has turned in favor of hormone replacement therapy:
- “Concepts regarding menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer have undergone considerable change in the last decade.”
If so, it is predominantly due to the premeditated manipulation and deceitful marketing strategies conceived by Wyeth, and now Pfizer, intended to quell the fears the WHI and other studies instilled in unsuspecting women. The product hasn’t changed, nor has the intent. Given the proven cause and effect relationship of conventional HRT therapy and the cornucopia of life-threatening diseases it is propaganda at its worst.
The question looms as to the validity of this study and any politics behind it if in fact any exist. There is nothing new about Big Pharma’s conspiracies and their ability to insert distorted information into so-called “scientific” medical journals and use them as marketing tools.
Simply recall the contract between Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and DesignWrite, a medical communications company, where articles were ghostwritten for top-tier medical journals with the intention of strengthening the sales of the Premarin family of HRT products.
It should come as no surprise then that the funding for this research was provided by none other than Wyeth (now part of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
After all, the patent for Premarin, the estrogen-only HRT used in the study, expired in February 2012 and the lawsuits are still ongoing. What could be better than some encouraging news for those women who are taking or planning to take Premarin for the relief of menopausal symptoms? Remember their mission. “We dedicate ourselves to humanity’s quest for longer, healthier, happier lives through innovation in pharmaceutical, consumer, and animal health products.”
Hogwash. It’s all about the bottom line.
Researchers who participated in study had this to say:
- “Some previous studies have suggested that estrogen-only HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, but these studies were less rigorous in design than the new one.”
What studies are they referring to? Are they trying to insinuate that the landmark WHI study, or others equally as reputable, somehow was flawed compared to theirs? Even if they are not including the WHI they are clearly proclaiming that the conclusions reached by the WHI are in error.
Let’s see how robust their study was:
- All the women had a hysterectomy before joining the study
- Half the women took estrogen-only, the other half a placebo
- Neither the women or the doctors knew which women were taking the HRT and which were taking the placebo
OK so far – a double-blind placebo controlled study where the “blindness” ensures that the personal beliefs and expectations of either the researchers or the study subjects do not undermine the objectivity of the results.
- After the study started, the women could stop taking the HRT or placebo whenever they wanted
- On average the women took the HRT or placebo for less than 6 years with all or mostly all of the prescribed medicine for about 3.5 years
- Many women took fewer doses than prescribed
- Some women agreed to be followed for more time – half for 12 years and half for less.
These last four bullets seem to indicate a total lack of control on the researcher’s part – more of a “soft science” area of statistics rather than a rigorous study with defined formal phases. Without all the women taking either the estrogen-HRT or placebos for the full length of the study or in lower dosages, particularly the HRT group, the study seems inherently flawed. As the famous saying goes: “There are three ways to not tell the truth: lies, damned lies and statistics”.
In any case, I don’t buy it, nor do others:
- “Other experts weren’t convinced. “It’s inconsistent with the totality of evidence that finds estrogen increases breast cancer risk,” said Valerie Beral, director of the cancer epidemiology unit at Oxford University. She said the analysis was a subset of a larger trial that wasn’t designed to specifically look at breast cancer. “If you want to take hormone replacement therapy, estrogen-only has a much lesser effect on breast cancer than with progestin,” she said. “But to say it protects against breast cancer is wrong.”
While the interactions of HRT derived from CEEs and the female body may be complex, time and time again estrogen has always shown to fuel the growth of breast cancer cells. Is this some breakthrough in medical science or just some poorly designed experiment used as a marketing tool to promote a known carcinogen? When research is commissioned or funded by commercial interests – Wyeth/Pfizer in this case – this introduces another element of risk as to its scientific validity.
“To be scientifically proven” has enormous brand value. Where research funding comes from a source which can gain large financial benefit from the sales of the product or the idea or the intellectual property which results from the research then the risk that the “research results” are skewed or selectively published in favour of the funder’s interests is quite significant. The research results are now just a means of tapping into the brand value of being “scientifically proven”. The so-called science becomes nothing more than part of a marketing campaign”.
Greed at its worst – Big Pharma strikes again.
Sadly, in the end Pfizer continues to profit from the suffering of the innocent mares and their foals. Nothing has been, or ever will be, appealing or beneficial about the PMU industry and the Premarin family of drugs; they are clearly harbingers of death from both sides of the equation. The devil incarnate indeed.
Researched and Written by Jane Allin
© Int’l Fund for Horses
~ Alice Walker
Int’l Fund for Horses Website
WHAT YOU CAN DO
— Send the Int’l Fund for Horses “Dear Physician Letter” (3 pp, pdf) – with or without a personal cover letter from you – to any doctor who may prescribe this medication today.
The letter is researched, written and signed by us. All you need to do is print and mail. Thank you.