Results of The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)

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Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) principal investigator, revealed the landmark results of The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) at a press conference May 27.

Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) principal investigator, revealed the landmark results of The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) at a press conference May 27.

The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study is an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative Hormone Replacement Study that was designed to answer whether taking hormone replacement lowers the risk of dementia or declines in cognitive function such as memory and other thinking abilities. She reported that older women taking combination hormone therapy have twice the rate of dementia when compared with women who do not take the medication.

“Going into the study we expected to find that hormone replacement would lower the risk of dementia,” said Johnson. “We were surprised to find that women who take hormones have an increased risk of dementia of 200 percent.”

The research was reported in the May 28, 2003, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, and colleagues from 39 schools, including UTHSC. The study also found that the risks of taking hormone medications far outweigh the benefits.

UTHSC assistant professor of preventive medicine, Suzanne Satterfield, MD, DrPH, was a co-investigator.

Importantly, in July 2002 all combination therapy of the WHI was stopped when it was found that participating patients had a significant increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots.

“With these new findings, other research is needed to find alternative methods for treating post-menopausal patients,” said Johnson.

For more information about this study, visit the WHIMS Web site: www.wfubmc.edu/whims/.