PureInsight | August 5, 2002
On July 9, almost all major U.S. TV stations and newspapers reported the breaking news that hormone replacement therapy in women may actually increase the risk of certain fatal diseases. The National Institute of Health had abruptly stopped a national study involving the use of hormone replacement medications. This news has millions of women concerned.
Reuters reported that the findings were based on a nation-wide experiment on the effects of hormone replacement, namely estrogen and progestin, on menopausal symptoms in women. More than 16,000 American women participated in the study. The study was stopped because of the increased risks found, including increased risk of breast cancer, coronary disease, stroke and potentially fatal blood clots in the lungs. The National Institute of Health concluded that the long-term usage of combination hormone therapy could cause serious risks that far outweigh the benefits. Currently 6 million American women use this hormone combination to reduce menopausal symptoms.
Researchers said this project was initially planned to last 8 years, but was stopped 3 years ahead of schedule to avoid putting any more women’s health at risk. The federal government has sent out notices to the 16,000 participants asking them to immediately stop taking the medications.
It has been a long-standing controversy in the medical field whether hormone replacement therapy’s benefits outweigh their risks. Earlier research suggested that hormone therapy can relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, emotional instability and night sweats. There have also been reports that hormone therapy could possibly increase the overall health level of women after menopause. The results of this experiment, however, showed that women taking these hormones are 26% more likely to develop breast cancer, 29% more likely to experience heart attacks, and 41% more likely to suffer from a stroke. On the other hand, hormones can reduce the risk of colon cancer and hip fractures. Researchers were surprised to discover that combination hormone treatment contributed to coronary artery disease, which is the number one cause of death in women.
People have expressed reservations about these types of experiments. So many women have innocently become victims of the once popular hormone replacement therapy. In other words, 6 million women have been exposed to increased risks of heart attacks, breast cancer, and strokes. In some aspects this is not far from experiments that are performed on lab animals. The results of increased risks of 26%, 29% and 41%, are startling numbers. This phenomenon of researchers solely being concerned about seeking research funding and publication of their articles in professional journals, while ignoring the safety of human lives, is reproachable. So many drugs have been described by modern medicine as panaceas, while the FDA has reported that even the best medications are only 20-30% more effective than placebo.
So what has made hormone replacement treatment so popular? Many women and gynecologists have discovered that hormone therapy can reduce menopausal symptoms while making women look and feel younger. Thus, they consider estrogen to be the panacea in solving womens’ problems and in increasing their quality of life. They couldn’t have imagined that the benefits of the drug, including youthfulness, came with a price: heart attacks, breast cancer, and strokes as demonstrated by the study.
People have sought ways to prolong youth since ancient times. From emperors to ordinary people to cultivators, many have wanted to achieve immortality. After many generations of searching, people now have high hopes for modern science. However, despite the advances in science and technology, there are still incurable diseases and natural disasters. Furthermore, modern people are suffering from increased pollution, drug abuse, and the potential of chemical, nuclear and bio-chemical weapons, all of which are the result of scientific developments.
Some people will argue that the life expectancy of people has increased nonetheless. It is true that people are now living longer, but a prolonged life span doesn’t mean that humans should be treated like lab animals for experimentation. Nor does it mean that a person’s quality of life is improved. It’s also not an excuse for corrupted souls to seek satisfaction for their most extreme desires. Longevity give more people the time to find the path to return to their true selves and this is the Tao that humans should be seeking.
1. NBC Health News: Due to risks, hormone trial halted-Risks of hormone drugs outweigh benefits. July 9, 2002 (http://msnbc.com/news/777875.asp?0dm=C12NH)
2. CBS Health News: Red Flag On Hormone Replacement. July 9, 2002 (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/07/09/health/main514513.shtml)