Hormone Therapy’s Moving Target
For nearly 100 years, different opinions on hormone replacement
therapy have caused its use to ebb and flow.
1941-1942: Canadian firm Ayerst, McKenna and Harrison introduces Premarin, a combination of estrogens produced from the urine of pregnant mares, the most potent form of the hormone yet developed. (COURTESY OF SCHERING-PLOUGH)
1953: Mayo Clinic scientists posit that estrogen is cardioprotective after performing autopsies and finding that women who had their ovaries removed suffered more advanced atherosclerosis than women with ovaries.
THROUGH 1950S: Concerned by animal studies suggesting estrogen is carcinogenic and that it somehow abets preexisting tumors, physicians begin prescribing estrogen primarily for short-term relief of menopausal symptoms. (THE GRANGER COLLECTION)
1975: Studies show a link between estrogen and endometrial cancer. (Courtesy of Pocket Books)
1992: The American College of Physicians recommends hormone therapy to all women to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
1994: First large-scale randomized controlled clinical trial of combined hormone therapy shows better cholesterol scores for women taking the drug than for women on a placebo.
1998: The four-year Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study finds hormone therapy does not reduce heart attacks in women who already have heart disease. (THE MEDICAL FILE/PETER ARNOLD INC.)
2004: The Premarin arm of the WHI study is ended a year ahead of schedule because estrogen alone offered no cardioprotective benefit but increased the risk of blood clots and stroke. (SCOTT CAMAZINE/PHOTOTAKE)