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BMS/RCOG statement on the ‘Kirsty Wark: The Menopause and Me’ documentary on BBC One

News 18 April 2017

The below statement refers to the ‘Kirsty Wark: The Menopause and Me’ documentary which will be broadcast at 10:45pm on Thursday 20 April on BBC One.

Dr Heather Currie, Chair of the British Menopause Society (BMS)said:

"The screening of ‘Kirsty Wark: The Menopause and Me’ is both welcome and timely. It shares information and experiences that women will find useful, but also adds impact to the latest revelations about the serious concerns made in the report in 2002 which scared so many women, including Kirsty Wark, away from using hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

“Professor Robert D Langer’s paper, 'The evidence base for hormone replacement therapy (HRT): what can we believe?', reviewed the 2002 Women’s Health Institute (WHI) clinical trial of HRT. 

“This exceptionally important paper highlights serious errors that were made during the WHI study and publication of results including little involvement from key investigators and conclusions made that did not accurately reflect the scientific findings. Of great concern was that headlines emphasised association of HRT use and breast cancer yet the study did not show any statistically significant increased risk. 

"Professor Langer concludes that a headline which appealed to women’s greatest fear, the fear of breast cancer, ensured widespread publicity. Professor Langer also highlights that the study was designed to test the effects of HRT in older women, yet the conclusions applied the exaggerated risks to all women. Clinicians have been struggling for nearly 15 years to disprove some of the information in the report which was incorrectly deemed as factual. Since then, many women who needed HRT but avoided it, have suffered unnecessarily. 

“Over recent years, reanalysis of the data and consideration of further research has led to a better understanding of the risks of HRT. Evidence shows that the risks are small and, for most women, are outweighed by the benefits if treatment is started before 60, or within 10 years of the menopause. Benefits include symptom control as well as improved urogenital, bone and cardiovascular health.

“Published in Climacteric, Professor Langer’s important revelation puts to rest the incorrect perception of risks of HRT, and also calls into question the publication process.”

Mr Edward Morris, Vice President for Clinical Quality for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“The RCOG and BMS have worked hard over recent years to provide women with the correct information about HRT to make a properly informed decision. In 2016, the BMS and Women’s Health Concern published updated recommendations on HRT inmenopausal women, while last month the RCOG launched an information hub about menopause and women’s health later in life. NICE’s guideline on Menopause: diagnosis and management has also significantly helped both women and clinicians in understanding the evidence behind the advice we provide.”

“While not every woman requires HRT, all should have access to accurate information about the consequences of menopause and treatment options, and the reassurance that HRT remains a low risk and beneficial treatment for most women."

ENDS

 

NOTES

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7772 6357 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk.

About the RCOG

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.