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December 2014

Was The Women's Health Initiative Good Or Bad For Women's Health?

Was The Women's Health Initiative Good Or Bad For Women's Health?

Most women are familiar with the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), the largest randomized controlled trial to date, sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to evaluate the role of hormone therapy in menopause to protect cardiovascular and bone health. Begun in 1991 as a proposed 15‐year study, women in menopause with a uterus were randomized to take orally either a placebo or PremPro®, a combination of Premarin®, a conjugated equine estrogen (CEE), and medroxyprogesterone, a synthetic version of progesterone. Women with a hysterectomy were given either CEE alone or placebo. In part, this $725 million study was intended to resolve the controversy over whether menopause should be embraced as a natural transition in life, a position taken by the feminist movement at the time, or, as proposed by such books as Feminine Forever (Pocket Books, NY, 1968), that menopause was a hormone deficiency totally preventable with hormone therapy.