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1.  Effects of A Breast-Health Herbal Formula Supplement on Estrogen Metabolism in Pre- and Post-Menopausal Women not Taking Hormonal Contraceptives or Supplements: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Introduction
Both indole-3-carbinol and dietary lignans have beneficial effects on estrogen metabolism and breast cancer risk. There is no published literature on the effects of a combination product. This study was designed to investigate the impact of a combination product on estrogen metabolism. The major trial objective was to determine whether a breast health supplement containing indole-3-carbinol and hydroxymatairesinol lignan would alter estrogen metabolism to favour C-2 hydroxylation and reduce C-16 hydroxylation. Higher concentrations of C-2 metabolites and lower concentrations of C-16 metabolites may reduce breast cancer risk and risk for other hormonally-related cancers.
Methods
Forty-seven pre-menopausal and forty-nine post-menopausal women were recruited for this study, and were divided by random allocation into treatment and placebo group. The treatment supplement contained HMR lignan, indole-3-carbinol, calcium glucarate, milk thistle, Schisandra chinesis and stinging nettle, and each woman consumed either treatment or placebo for 28 days. At day 0 and day 28, blood samples were analysed for serum enterolactone concentrations, and first morning random urine samples were assessed for estrogen metabolites. Repeated measures ANOVA statistical testing was performed.
Results
In pre-menopausal women, treatment supplementation resulted in a significant increase (P < 0.05) in urinary 2-OHE concentrations and in the 2:16α-OHE ratio. In post-menopausal women, treatment supplementation resulted in a significant increase in urinary 2-OHE concentrations. In pre- and post-menopausal women combined, treatment supplementation produced a significant increase in urinary 2-OHE concentration and a trend (P = 0.074) toward an increased 2:16α-OHE ratio. There were no significant increases in serum enterolactone concentrations in the treatment or placebo groups.
Conclusions
Supplementation with a mixture of indole-3-carbinol and HMR lignan in women significantly increased estrogen C-2 hydroxylation. This may constitute a mechanism for the reduction of breast cancer risk as well as risk for other estrogen-related cancers. Further studies with higher numbers of subjects are indicated.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov registration #NCT01089049.
doi:10.4137/BCBCR.S6505
PMCID: PMC3018890  PMID: 21234288
herbal supplement; breast health; estrogen metabolites
2.  Injectable and Oral Contraceptive Use and Cancers of the Breast, Cervix, Ovary, and Endometrium in Black South African Women: Case–Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001182.
A case-control study conducted in South Africa provides new estimates of the risk of specific cancers of the female reproductive system associated with use of injectable and oral contraceptives.
Background
Oral contraceptives are known to influence the risk of cancers of the female reproductive system. Evidence regarding the relationship between injectable contraceptives and these cancers is limited, especially in black South Africans, among whom injectable contraceptives are used more commonly than oral contraceptives.
Methods and Findings
We analysed data from a South African hospital-based case–control study of black females aged 18–79 y, comparing self-reported contraceptive use in patients with breast (n = 1,664), cervical (n = 2,182), ovarian (n = 182), and endometrial (n = 182) cancer, with self-reported contraceptive use in 1,492 control patients diagnosed with cancers with no known relationship to hormonal contraceptive use. We adjusted for potential confounding factors, including age, calendar year of diagnosis, education, smoking, alcohol, parity/age at first birth, and number of sexual partners. Among controls, 26% had used injectable and 20% had used oral contraceptives. For current and more recent users versus never users of oral or injectable contraceptives, the odds ratios (ORs) for breast cancer were significantly increased in users of oral and/or injectable contraceptives (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.28–2.16, p<0.001) and separately among those exclusively using oral (1.57, 1.03–2.40, p = 0.04) and exclusively using injectable (OR 1.83, 1.31–2.55, p<0.001) contraceptives; corresponding ORs for cervical cancer were 1.38 (1.08–1.77, p = 0.01), 1.01 (0.66–1.56, p = 0.96), and 1.58 (1.16–2.15, p = 0.004). There was no significant increase in breast or cervical cancer risk among women ceasing hormonal contraceptive use ≥10 y previously (p = 0.3 and p = 0.9, respectively). For durations of use ≥5 y versus never use, the ORs of ovarian cancer were 0.60 (0.36–0.99, p = 0.04) for oral and/or injectable contraceptive use and 0.07 (0.01–0.49, p = 0.008) for injectable use exclusively; corresponding ORs for endometrial cancer were 0.44 (0.22–0.86, p = 0.02) and 0.36 (0.11–1.26, p = 0.1).
Conclusions
In this study, use of oral and of injectable hormonal contraceptives was associated with a transiently increased risk of breast and cervical cancer and, for long durations of use, with a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. The observed effects of injectable and of oral contraceptives on cancer risk in this study did not appear to differ substantially.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Hormonal contraceptives are among the most commonly used medications. Globally, more than 210 million women currently use either hormonal contraceptive pills or injectable contraceptives. Contraceptive pills usually contain manmade versions of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone (the combined oral contraceptive, or “pill”); most injectable hormonal contraceptives contain only manmade progesterone preparations. Hormonal contraceptives, which prevent pregnancy by disrupting the cyclical changes in estrogen and progesterone levels that prepare the body for pregnancy, have revolutionized birth control since they first became available in the early 1960s. However, it is now known that taking the pill also influences women's risk of developing cancers of the female reproductive system. Current and recent users have an increased risk of developing breast and cervical cancer (the cervix is the structure that connects the womb to the vagina) compared to never users, although this increased risk quickly disappears when women stop taking the pill. By contrast, women who have used the pill have a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer and cancer of the womb (endometrial cancer) compared to never users that increases with the duration of pill use and persists for many years after use ceases. These effects on reproductive system cancers are thought to occur because these cancers depend on naturally occurring sex hormones for their development and growth.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the evidence that the pill influences the risk of developing cancers of the female reproductive system is extensive, much less is known about how injectable hormonal contraceptives affect cancer risk. In this hospital-based case–control study (a study that compares the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition), the researchers investigate the relationship between the use of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives and cancers of the breast, cervix, ovary, and endometrium among black South African women. Injectable contraceptives have been used for longer in South Africa than elsewhere and are used more commonly than oral contraceptives among black South African women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
As part of the Johannesburg Cancer Case Control Study, which recruits black patients attending Johannesburg public referral hospitals for cancer treatment, the researchers compared hormonal contraceptive use in women with breast, cervical, ovarian, or endometrial cancer with contraceptive use in women diagnosed with other cancers such as lung, colon, and rectal cancers, which are not known to be influenced by hormonal contraceptives. Among the controls, a quarter had used injectable contraceptives and a fifth had used oral contraceptives. After adjusting for other factors that might influence cancer risk such as age, smoking, and number of sexual partners, the odds ratio (OR) of breast cancer among current and recent users of oral and/or injectable contraceptives compared to never users was 1.66. That is, the risk of developing breast cancer among current and recent users of hormonal contraceptives was 1.66 times that among never users. For women using oral contraceptives exclusively or injectable contraceptives exclusively, the ORs of breast cancer were 1.57 and 1.83, respectively. There were also increases in cervical cancer risk among current and recent users of hormonal contraceptives compared to never users, but no significant increase in breast or cervical cancer risk among women who had ceased hormonal contraceptive use more than ten years previously. Finally, the use of hormonal contraceptives for more than five years reduced the risk of both ovarian and endometrial cancer.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among black women in South Africa, the use of oral or injectable hormonal contraceptives is associated with a transiently increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, and that extended use of these contraceptives is associated with a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Moreover, they suggest that the effects of oral versus injectable contraceptives on cancer risk do not differ substantially, although for endometrial and ovarian cancer the small number of cases exposed to injectable contraceptives limits the accuracy of the risk estimates. Other limitations of this study include the possibility that the findings may be affected by uncontrolled confounding. That is, women who used hormonal contraceptives may have shared other unidentified characteristics that affected their cancer risk. Nevertheless, these findings provide new information about the effects of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives on cancer risk that should help women make informed decisions about their choice of contraceptive method.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001182.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information on breast cancer (including personal stories from breast cancer survivors), cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer for patients and health professionals, and a fact sheet on oral contraceptives and cancer risk (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information on breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer and information about the birth control pill and cancer risk
Eyes on the Prize, an online support group for women who have had cancers of the female reproductive system, has personal stories; further personal stories about breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer are provided by the charity Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001182
PMCID: PMC3295825  PMID: 22412354
3.  Promotional Tone in Reviews of Menopausal Hormone Therapy After the Women's Health Initiative: An Analysis of Published Articles 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000425.
Adriane Fugh-Berman and colleagues analyzed a selection of published opinion pieces on hormone therapy and show that there may be a connection between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the tone of such opinion pieces.
Background
Even after the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) found that the risks of menopausal hormone therapy (hormone therapy) outweighed benefit for asymptomatic women, about half of gynecologists in the United States continued to believe that hormones benefited women's health. The pharmaceutical industry has supported publication of articles in medical journals for marketing purposes. It is unknown whether author relationships with industry affect promotional tone in articles on hormone therapy. The goal of this study was to determine whether promotional tone could be identified in narrative review articles regarding menopausal hormone therapy and whether articles identified as promotional were more likely to have been authored by those with conflicts of interest with manufacturers of menopausal hormone therapy.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed tone in opinion pieces on hormone therapy published in the four years after the estrogen-progestin arm of the WHI was stopped. First, we identified the ten authors with four or more MEDLINE-indexed reviews, editorials, comments, or letters on hormone replacement therapy or menopausal hormone therapy published between July 2002 and June 2006. Next, we conducted an additional search using the names of these authors to identify other relevant articles. Finally, after author names and affiliations were removed, 50 articles were evaluated by three readers for scientific accuracy and for tone. Scientific accuracy was assessed based on whether or not the findings of the WHI were accurately reported using two criteria: (1) Acknowledgment or lack of denial of the risk of breast cancer diagnosis associated with hormone therapy, and (2) acknowledgment that hormone therapy did not benefit cardiovascular disease endpoints. Determination of promotional tone was based on the assessment by each reader of whether the article appeared to promote hormone therapy. Analysis of inter-rater consistency found moderate agreement for scientific accuracy (κ = 0.57) and substantial agreement for promotional tone (κ = 0.65). After discussion, readers found 86% of the articles to be scientifically accurate and 64% to be promotional in tone. Themes that were common in articles considered promotional included attacks on the methodology of the WHI, arguments that clinical trial results should not guide treatment for individuals, and arguments that observational studies are as good as or better than randomized clinical trials for guiding clinical decisions. The promotional articles we identified also implied that the risks associated with hormone therapy have been exaggerated and that the benefits of hormone therapy have been or will be proven. Of the ten authors studied, eight were found to have declared payment for speaking or consulting on behalf of menopausal hormone manufacturers or for research support (seven of these eight were speakers or consultants). Thirty of 32 articles (90%) evaluated as promoting hormone therapy were authored by those with potential financial conflicts of interest, compared to 11 of 18 articles (61%) by those without such conflicts (p = 0.0025). Articles promoting the use of menopausal hormone therapy were 2.41 times (95% confidence interval 1.49–4.93) as likely to have been authored by authors with conflicts of interest as by authors without conflicts of interest. In articles from three authors with conflicts of interest some of the same text was repeated word-for-word in different articles.
Conclusion
There may be a connection between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the publication of promotional opinion pieces on menopausal hormone therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over the past three decades, menopausal hormones have been heavily promoted for preventing disease in women. However, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study—which enrolled more than 26,000 women in the US and which was published in 2004—found that estrogen-progestin and estrogen-only formulations (often prescribed to women around the age of menopause) increased the risk of stroke, deep vein thrombosis, dementia, and incontinence. Furthermore, this study found that the estrogen-progestin therapy increased rates of breast cancer. In fact, the estrogen-progestin arm of the WHI study was stopped in 2002 due to harmful findings, and the estrogen-only arm was stopped in 2004, also because of harmful findings. In addition, the study also found that neither therapy reduced cardiovascular risk or markedly benefited health-related quality of life measures.
Despite these results, two years after the results of WHI study were published, a survey of over 700 practicing gynecologists—the specialists who prescribe the majority of menopausal hormone therapies—in the US found that almost half did not find the findings of the WHI study convincing and that 48% disagreed with the decision to stop the trial early. Furthermore, follow-up surveys found similar results.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear why gynecologists and other physicians continue to prescribe menopausal hormone therapies despite the results of the WHI. Some academics argue that published industry-funded reviews and commentaries may be designed to convey specific, but subtle, marketing messages and several academic analyses have used internal industry documents disclosed in litigation cases. So this study was conducted to investigate whether hormone therapy–promoting tone could be identified in narrative review articles and if so, whether these articles were more likely to have been authored by people who had accepted funding from hormone manufacturers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search that identified 340 relevant articles published between July 2002 and June 2006—the four years following the cessation of the estrogen-progestin arm of the women's health initiative study. Ten authors had published four to six articles, 47 authored two or three articles, and 371 authored one article each. The researchers focused on authors who had published four or more articles in the four-year period under study and, after author names and affiliations were removed, 50 articles were evaluated by three readers for scientific accuracy and for tone. After individually analyzing a batch of articles, the readers met to provide their initial assessments, to discuss them, and to reach consensus on tone and scientific accuracy. Then after the papers were evaluated, each author was identified and the researchers searched for authors' potential financial conflicts of interest, defined as publicly disclosed information that the authors had received payment for research, speaking, or consulting on behalf of a manufacturer of menopausal hormone therapy.
Common themes in the 50 articles included arguments that clinical trial results should not guide treatment for individuals and suggestions that the risks associated with hormone therapy have been exaggerated and that the benefits of hormone therapy have been or will be proven. Furthermore, of the ten authors studied, eight were found to have received payment for research, speaking or consulting on behalf of menopause hormone manufacturers, and 30 of 32 articles evaluated as promoting hormone therapy were authored by those with potential financial conflicts of interest. Articles promoting the use of menopausal hormone therapy were more than twice as likely to have been written by authors with conflicts of interest as by authors without conflicts of interest. Furthermore, Three authors who were identified as having financial conflicts of interest were authors on articles where sections of their previously published articles were repeated word-for-word without citation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study suggest that there may be a link between receiving industry funding for speaking, consulting, or research and the publication of apparently promotional opinion pieces on menopausal hormone therapy. Furthermore, such publications may encourage physicians to continue prescribing these therapies to women of menopausal age. Therefore, physicians and other health care providers should interpret the content of review articles with caution. In addition, medical journals should follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts, which require that all authors submit signed statements of their participation in authorship and full disclosure of any conflicts of interest.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000425.
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more information on the Womens Health Initiative
The US National Institutes of Health provide more information about the effects of menopausal hormone replacement therapy
The Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on menopausal hormone therapy
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts presents Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts published in biomedical journals
The National Womens Health Network, a consumer advocacy group that takes no industry money, has factsheets and articles about menopausal hormone therapy
PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center project, has many resources on pharmaceutical marketing practices
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000425
PMCID: PMC3058057  PMID: 21423581
4.  Vitamin K Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia (ECKO Trial): A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):1-12.
Background
Vitamin K has been widely promoted as a supplement for decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women, but the long-term benefits and potential harms are unknown. This study was conducted to determine whether daily high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation safely reduces bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures.
Methods and Findings
This single-center study was designed as a 2-y randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, extended for earlier participants for up to an additional 2 y because of interest in long-term safety and fractures. A total of 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to either 5 mg of vitamin K1 or placebo daily. Primary outcomes were changes in BMD at the lumbar spine and total hip at 2 y. Secondary outcomes included changes in BMD at other sites and other time points, bone turnover markers, height, fractures, adverse effects, and health-related quality of life. This study has a power of 90% to detect 3% differences in BMD between the two groups. The women in this study were vitamin D replete, with a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 77 nmol/l at baseline. Over 2 y, BMD decreased by −1.28% and −1.22% (p = 0.84) (difference of −0.06%; 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.67% to 0.54%) at the lumbar spine and −0.69% and −0.88% (p = 0.51) (difference of 0.19%; 95% CI −0.37% to 0.75%) at the total hip in the vitamin K and placebo groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in changes in BMD at any site between the two groups over the 2- to 4-y period. Daily vitamin K1 supplementation increased serum vitamin K1 levels by 10-fold, and decreased the percentage of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and total osteocalcin levels (bone formation marker). However, C-telopeptide levels (bone resorption marker) were not significantly different between the two groups. Fewer women in the vitamin K group had clinical fractures (nine versus 20, p = 0.04) and fewer had cancers (three versus 12, p = 0.02). Vitamin K supplements were well-tolerated over the 4-y period. There were no significant differences in adverse effects or health-related quality of life between the two groups. The study was not powered to examine fractures or cancers, and their numbers were small.
Conclusions
Daily 5 mg of vitamin K1 supplementation for 2 to 4 y does not protect against age-related decline in BMD, but may protect against fractures and cancers in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. More studies are needed to further examine the effect of vitamin K on fractures and cancers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (#NCT00150969) and Current Controlled Trials (#ISRCTN61708241)
Angela Cheung and colleagues investigate whether vitamin K1 can prevent bone loss among postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones gradually become less dense and more likely to break. In the US, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 18 million have osteopenia, a milder condition that precedes osteoporosis. In both conditions, insufficient new bone is made and/or too much old bone is absorbed. Although bone appears solid and unchanging, very little bone in the human body is more than 10 y old. Old bone is continually absorbed and new bone built using calcium, phosphorous, and proteins. Because the sex hormones control calcium and phosphorous deposition in the bones and thus bone strength, the leading cause of osteoporosis in women is reduced estrogen levels after menopause. In men, an age-related decline in testosterone levels can cause osteoporosis. Most people discover they have osteoporosis only when they break a bone, but the condition can be diagnosed and monitored using bone mineral density (BMD) scans. Treatments can slow down or reverse bone loss (antiresorptive therapies) and some (bone formation therapies) can even make bone and build bone tissue.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although regular exercise and a healthy diet can help to keep bones strong, other ways of preventing osteoporosis are badly needed. Recently, the lay media has promoted vitamin K supplements as a way to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women. Vitamin K (which is found mainly in leafy green vegetables) is required for a chemical modification of proteins called carboxylation. This modification is essential for the activity of three bone-building proteins. In addition, there is some evidence that low bone density and fractures are associated with a low vitamin K intake. However, little is known about the long-term benefits or harms of vitamin K supplements. In this study, the researchers investigate whether a high-dose daily vitamin K supplement can safely reduce bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures in postmenopausal women with osteopenia in a randomized controlled trial called the “Evaluation of the Clinical Use of Vitamin K Supplementation in Post-Menopausal Women With Osteopenia” (ECKO) trial.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the study, 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to receive 5mg of vitamin K1 (the type of vitamin K in North American food; the recommended daily adult intake of vitamin K1 is about 0.1 mg) or an inactive tablet (placebo) daily for 2 y; 261 of the women continued their treatment for 2 y to gather information about the long-term effects of vitamin K1 supplementation. All the women had regular bone density scans of their lower back and hips and were examined for fractures and for changes in bone turnover. After 2 y and after 4 y, lower back and hip bone density measurements had decreased by similar amounts in both treatment groups. The women who took vitamin K1 had 10-fold higher amounts of vitamin K1 in their blood than the women who took placebo and lower amounts of a bone formation marker; the levels of a bone resorption marker were similar in both groups. Over the 4-y period, fewer women in the vitamin K group had fractures (nine versus 20 women in the placebo group), and fewer had cancer (three versus 12). Finally, vitamin K supplementation was well tolerated over the 4-y period and adverse health effects were similar in the two treatment groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a high daily dose of vitamin K1 provides no protection against the age-related decline in bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia, but that vitamin K1 supplementation may protect against fractures and cancers in these women. The apparent contradiction between the effects of vitamin K1 on bone density and on fractures could mean that vitamin K1 supplements strengthen bone by changing factors other than bone density, e.g., by changing its fine structure rather than making it denser. However, because so few study participants had fractures, the difference in the fracture rate between the two treatment groups might have occurred by chance. Larger studies are therefore needed to examine the effect of vitamin K1 on fractures (and on cancer) and, until these are done, high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation should not be recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196.
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides detailed information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish) and links to other resources, including an interactive web tool called Check Up On Your Bones
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page about vitamin K
The UK Food Standards Agency provides information about vitamin K
Full details about the ECKO trial are available on the ClinicalTrials.gov Web site
The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care provides recommendations on the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on current topics related to osteoporosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196
PMCID: PMC2566998  PMID: 18922041
5.  Risk Prediction for Breast, Endometrial, and Ovarian Cancer in White Women Aged 50 y or Older: Derivation and Validation from Population-Based Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001492.
Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe models to calculate absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-Hispanic women over 50 years old using easily obtainable risk factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers share some hormonal and epidemiologic risk factors. While several models predict absolute risk of breast cancer, there are few models for ovarian cancer in the general population, and none for endometrial cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50+ y from two large population-based cohorts (the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [PLCO] and the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study [NIH-AARP]), we estimated relative and attributable risks and combined them with age-specific US-population incidence and competing mortality rates. All models included parity. The breast cancer model additionally included estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use, other MHT use, age at first live birth, menopausal status, age at menopause, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, benign breast disease/biopsies, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI); the endometrial model included menopausal status, age at menopause, BMI, smoking, oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and an interaction term between BMI and MHT use; the ovarian model included oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and family history or breast or ovarian cancer. In independent validation data (Nurses' Health Study cohort) the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated; expected to observed cancer ratios were 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–1.04) for breast cancer and 1.08 (95% CI: 0.97–1.19) for ovarian cancer. The number of endometrial cancers was significantly overestimated, expected/observed = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.11–1.29). The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; discriminatory power) were 0.58 (95% CI: 0.57–0.59), 0.59 (95% CI: 0.56–0.63), and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.66–0.70) for the breast, ovarian, and endometrial models, respectively.
Conclusions
These models predict absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers from easily obtainable risk factors and may assist in clinical decision-making. Limitations are the modest discriminatory ability of the breast and ovarian models and that these models may not generalize to women of other races.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, just three types of cancer accounted for 10% of global cancer-related deaths. That year, about 460,000 women died from breast cancer (the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death). Another 140,000 women died from ovarian cancer, and 74,000 died from endometrial (womb) cancer (the 14th and 20th most common causes of cancer-related death, respectively). Although these three cancers originate in different tissues, they nevertheless share many risk factors. For example, current age, age at menarche (first period), and parity (the number of children a woman has had) are all strongly associated with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk. Because these cancers share many hormonal and epidemiological risk factors, a woman with a high breast cancer risk is also likely to have an above-average risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several statistical models (for example, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool) have been developed that estimate a woman's absolute risk (probability) of developing breast cancer over the next few years or over her lifetime. Absolute risk prediction models are useful in the design of cancer prevention trials and can also help women make informed decisions about cancer prevention and treatment options. For example, a woman at high risk of breast cancer might decide to take tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention, but ideally she needs to know her absolute endometrial cancer risk before doing so because tamoxifen increases the risk of this cancer. Similarly, knowledge of her ovarian cancer risk might influence a woman's decision regarding prophylactic removal of her ovaries to reduce her breast cancer risk. There are few absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, and none for endometrial cancer, so here the researchers develop models to predict the risk of these cancers and of breast cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Absolute risk prediction models are constructed by combining estimates for risk factors from cohorts with population-based incidence rates from cancer registries. Models are validated in an independent cohort by testing their ability to identify people with the disease in an independent cohort and their ability to predict the observed numbers of incident cases. The researchers used data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older that were collected during two large prospective US cohort studies of cancer screening and of diet and health, and US cancer incidence and mortality rates provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to build their models. The models all included parity as a risk factor, as well as other factors. The model for endometrial cancer, for example, also included menopausal status, age at menopause, body mass index (an indicator of the amount of body fat), oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, and an interaction term between menopausal hormone therapy use and body mass index. Individual women's risk for endometrial cancer calculated using this model ranged from 1.22% to 17.8% over the next 20 years depending on their exposure to various risk factors. Validation of the models using data from the US Nurses' Health Study indicated that the endometrial cancer model overestimated the risk of endometrial cancer but that the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated—the predicted and observed risks for these cancers in the validation cohort agreed closely. Finally, the discriminatory power of the models (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) was modest for the breast and ovarian cancer models but somewhat better for the endometrial cancer model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer can all be predicted using information on known risk factors for these cancers that is easily obtainable. Because these models were constructed and validated using data from white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older, they may not accurately predict absolute risk for these cancers for women of other races or ethnicities. Moreover, the modest discriminatory power of the breast and ovarian cancer models means they cannot be used to decide which women should be routinely screened for these cancers. Importantly, however, these well-calibrated models should provide realistic information about an individual's risk of developing breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer that can be used in clinical decision-making and that may assist in the identification of potential participants for research studies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer;
Information on the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and on the prospective cohort study of screening and the diet and health study that provided the data used to build the models is also available on the NCI site
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer; the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer and ovarian cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492
PMCID: PMC3728034  PMID: 23935463
6.  Traditional Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: A Drug–Drug Interaction? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e157.
Background
Suppression of prostacyclin (PGI2) is implicated in the cardiovascular hazard from inhibitors of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2. Furthermore, estrogen confers atheroprotection via COX-2–dependent PGI2 in mice, raising the possibility that COX inhibitors may undermine the cardioprotection, suggested by observational studies, of endogenous or exogenous estrogens.
Methods and Findings
To identify an interaction between hormone therapy (HT) and COX inhibition, we measured a priori the association between concomitant nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), excluding aspirin, in peri- and postmenopausal women on HT and the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI) in a population-based epidemiological study. The odds ratio (OR) of MI in 1,673 individuals and 7,005 controls was increased from 0.66 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.50–0.88) when taking HT in the absence of traditional (t)NSAIDs to 1.50 (95% CI 0.85–2.64) when taking the combination of HT and tNSAIDs, resulting in a significant (p < 0.002) interaction. The OR when taking aspirin at doses of 150 mg/d or more was 1.41 (95% CI 0.47–4.22). However, a similar interaction was not observed with other commonly used drugs, including lower doses of aspirin, which target preferentially COX-1.
Conclusions
Whether estrogens confer cardioprotection remains controversial. Such a benefit was observed only in perimenopausal women in the only large randomized trial designed to address this issue. Should such a benefit exist, these results raise the possibility that COX inhibitors may undermine the cardioprotective effects of HT.
It is controversial whether estrogens confer cardioprotection. This study suggests that even should such a benefit exist, COX inhibitors may undermine cardioprotective effects of hormone therapy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
There is currently a great deal of uncertainty regarding the effect of postmenopausal hormone therapy on heart disease in women. Premenopausal women are much less likely to experience heart attacks and strokes than men, a difference that does not exist between postmenopausal women and men. One mechanism that might explain these observations relates to the effect of estrogen, which is thought to have a protective effect on the heart. Hormone replacement therapy (HT) consisting of replacement estrogen, and sometimes progesterone as well, is often taken by women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Evidence from observational studies and the Womens' Health Initiative (WHI) trial has suggested that HT protects against heart disease in perimenopausal women. However, researchers have suggested that any beneficial effect of hormone replacement therapy on the heart might be counteracted by the effects of certain types of painkillers also being taken by women involved in the studies. These painkillers, nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs), prevent production of a molecule called prostacyclin. Prostacyclin plays a role in preventing blood clotting and is therefore thought to be important in protecting the heart. Estrogen, however, acts to increase production of prostacyclin, and it is therefore theoretically possible that hormone replacement therapy does have a beneficial effect on heart health, but which is counteracted by the negative effects of NSAIDs.
Why Was This Study Done?
In this study, the researchers wanted to find out whether there was any evidence for an interaction between NSAID use, hormone replacement therapy, and heart disease. Such understanding in turn might help to identify more clearly whether hormone replacement therapy protects against heart disease in specific subgroups of postmenopausal women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This study was carried out using information from the UK's General Practice Research Database, which is the largest computer database of anonymous medical records from primary care anywhere in the world. It contains information entered by UK general practitioners on their patients' drug prescriptions, diagnoses, referrals to hospital, and other data. The researchers here searched for all individuals from the database who were aged between 50 and 84 years on 1 January 1997, and then followed them up through the database for four years, or until the individual died, reached 85 years of age, or was diagnosed with a heart attack or cancer. From this search, the researchers found 1,673 women who had heart attacks or who died from coronary heart disease; these were considered “cases.” Then, these 1,673 women were matched against 20,000 “control” women of similar age. Information was pulled out for each case or control on their use of hormone replacement therapy, NSAIDs (covering 21 different drugs, but most commonly diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen), and various risk factors for heart disease. The researchers then compared use of hormone replacement therapy and NSAIDs between the cases and controls, while making statistical adjustments for other risk factors (such as diabetes and smoking, for example).
  The researchers found that current use of hormone replacement therapy was associated with a lower risk of heart attack than non-use. The odds ratio (chance of a heart attack among HT users compared to the chance among non-users of HT) was 0.78. However, when looking at women who used NSAIDs at the same time as hormone replacement therapy, the researchers found no suggestion of a reduction in risk of heart attack: the odds ratio for the chance of heart attack among this group of women, as compared to nonusers of both NSAIDs and hormone replacement therapy, was 1.50.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that hormone replacement therapy and NSAIDs might interact, with NSAIDs acting against a role for hormone replacement therapy in preventing heart attacks. At face value, these results are in conflict with the findings of one large trial, the WHI trial, which failed to find a benefit of HT in preventing heart attacks. However, a recent analysis of WHI suggests cardioprotective effects of HT in women close to the time of the menopause and this coincides with the younger age of women in the observational studies such as the present one rather than in the WHI overall. Observational research studies, such as the present one, are often difficult to interpret because the groups being compared are not necessarily equivalent. It's possible that women who take hormone replacement therapy, or NSAIDs, are in some way different from women who do not, which will bias the findings. Determination of the clinical implications of these findings would most appropriately be resolved in future trials, designed to address the question of interest.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040157.
Resources from the US National Institutes of Health on menopausal hormone therapy, including links to information about the Women's Health Initiative trials, information about managing menopausal symptoms, and more
Resources from the US National Institutes of Health (MedlinePlus) about heart disease in women
Information from NHS Direct, the UK National Health Service, about hormone replacement therapy
The UK General Practice Research Database is the database utilized in this article
Wikipedia entry on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (note: Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040157
PMCID: PMC1872041  PMID: 17518513
7.  Hypnosis for hot flashes among postmenopausal women study: A study protocol of an ongoing randomized clinical trial 
Background
Hot flashes are a highly prevalent problem associated with menopause and breast cancer treatments. The recent findings from the Women's Health Initiative have important implications for the significance of a non-hormonal, mind-body intervention for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. Women who take hormone therapy long-term may have a 1.2 to 2.0 fold increased risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, it is now known that hormone therapy with estrogen and progestin is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Currently there are limited options to hormone replacement therapy as non-hormonal pharmacological agents are associated with only modest activity and many adverse side effects. Because of this there is a need for more alternative, non-hormonal therapies. Hypnosis is a mind-body intervention that has been shown to reduce self-reported hot flashes by up to 68% among breast cancer survivors, however, the use of hypnosis for hot flashes among post-menopausal women has not been adequately explored and the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing physiologically measured hot flashes has not yet been determined.
Methods/design
A sample of 180 post-menopausal women will be randomly assigned to either a 5-session Hypnosis Intervention or 5-session structured-attention control with 12 week follow-up. The present study will compare hypnosis to a structured-attention control in reducing hot flashes (perceived and physiologically monitored) in post-menopausal women in a randomized clinical trial. Outcomes will be hot flashes (self-report daily diaries; physiological monitoring; Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); anxiety visual analog scale (VAS rating); depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), sexual functioning (Sexual Activity Questionnaire), sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) and cortisol.
Discussion
This study will be the first full scale test of hypnosis for hot flashes; one of the first studies to examine both perceived impact and physiologically measured impact of a mind-body intervention for hot flashes using state-of-the-art 24 hour ambulatory physiological monitoring; the first study to examine the effect of hypnosis for hot flashes on cortisol; and the first investigation of the role of cognitive expectancies in treatment of hot flashes in comparison to a Structured-Attention Control.
Trial Registration
This clinical trial has been registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01293695.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-92
PMCID: PMC3200173  PMID: 21989181
8.  Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t 
Journal of women's health (2002)  2005;14(7):634-649.
All women reach menopause and approximately two-thirds of women develop menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes. Hormone therapy long was considered the first line of treatment for vasomotor symptoms. However, given the results of the Women’s Health Initiative, many women are reluctant use exogenous hormones for symptomatic treatment and are turning to botanicals and dietary supplement (BDS) products for relief. Despite the fact that there is limited scientific evidence describing efficacy and long term safety of such products, many women find these “natural treatments” appealing. Peri- and postmenopausal women are amongst the highest users of these products, but 70% of women do not tell their health care providers about their use. Compounding this issue is the fact that few clinicians ask their patients about use of BDS, largely because they have not been exposed to alternative medical practices in their training and are unfamiliar with these products. This paper reviews the botanicals and dietary supplements commonly used in menopause, (such as black cohosh, red clover, soy products, among others) as well as the available data on efficacy and safety. We searched the MEDLINE database from 1966 to December 2004 using terms related to botanical and dietary supplements and menopausal symptoms for peri- or postmenopausal women. Abstracts from relevant meetings as well as reference books and websites on herbal supplements were also searched. Randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) were used if available; open trials and comparison group studies were used when RCTs were not available. The evidence to date suggests that black cohosh is safe and effective for reducing menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes and possibly mood disorders. Phytoestrogen extracts, including soy foods and red clover appear to have at best only minimal effect on menopausal symptoms but have positive health effects on plasma lipid concentrations and may reduce heart disease. St. John’s wort has been shown to improve mild to moderate depression in the general population and appears to show efficacy for mood disorders related to the menopausal transition. Other commonly used botanicals have limited evidence to demonstrate safety and efficacy for relief of symptoms related to menopause.
doi:10.1089/jwh.2005.14.634
PMCID: PMC1764641  PMID: 16181020
Menopause; botanical supplements; dietary supplements
9.  Impact of Sex Hormone Metabolism on the Vascular Effects of Menopausal Hormone Therapy in Cardiovascular Disease 
Current drug metabolism  2010;11(8):693-714.
Epidemiological studies have shown that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is less common in pre-menopausal women (Pre-MW) compared to men of the same age or post-menopausal women (Post-MW), suggesting cardiovascular benefits of estrogen. Estrogen receptors (ERs) have been identified in the vasculature, and experimental studies have demonstrated vasodilator effects of estrogen/ER on the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and extracellular matrix. Several natural and synthetic estrogenic preparations have been developed for relief of menopausal vasomotor symptoms. However, whether menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is beneficial in postmenopausal CVD remains controversial. Despite reports of vascular benefits of MHT from observational and experimental studies, randomized clinical trials (RCTs), such as the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), have suggested that, contrary to expectations, MHT may increase the risk of CVD. These discrepancies could be due to age-related changes in sex hormone synthesis and metabolism, which would influence the effective dose of MHT and the sex hormone environment in Post-MW. Age-related changes in the vascular ER subtype, structure, expression, distribution, and post-ER signaling pathways in the endothelium and VSM, along with factors related to the design of RCTs, preexisting CVD condition, and structural changes in the blood vessels architecture have also been suggested as possible causes of MHT failure in CVD. Careful examination of these factors should help in identifying the causes of the changes in the vascular effects of estrogen with age. The sex hormone metabolic pathways, the active versus inactive estrogen metabolites, and their effects on vascular function, the mitochondria, the inflammatory process and angiogenesis should be further examined. Also, the genomic and non-genomic effects of estrogenic compounds should be viewed as integrated rather than discrete responses. The complex interactions between these factors highlight the importance of careful design of MHT RCTs, and the need of a more customized approach for each individual patient in order to enhance the vascular benefits of MHT in postmenopausal CVD.
PMCID: PMC3063102  PMID: 21189141
estrogen; phytoestrogens; estrogen receptor; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension; progesterone; testosterone
10.  Prevention and management of osteoporosis: consensus statements from the Scientific Advisory Board of the Osteoporosis Society of Canada. 3. Effects of ovarian hormone therapy on skeletal and extraskeletal tissues in women. 
OBJECTIVE: To present recent evidence on the use of ovarian hormone therapy (OHT) for osteoporosis and outline safe and effective regimens. OPTIONS: Estrogen alone, estrogen and progestins, progestins alone; various treatment regimens. OUTCOMES: Fracture and loss of bone mineral density in osteoporosis; increased bone mass, prevention of fractures and improved quality of life associated with OHT. EVIDENCE: Relevant clinical studies and reports, including the Nurses' Health Study and the Post-menopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions (PEPI) Trial, were studied with emphasis on recent prospective, randomized, controlled trials. Current clinical practice was determined by survey. VALUES: Reducing fractures, increasing bone mineral density and minimizing side effects of treatment were given a high value. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Proper management of osteoporosis minimizes injury and disability, improves quality of life and reduces the personal and social costs associated with the condition. OHT is the front-line pharmaceutical therapy for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. In those who are able and willing to comply with therapy, OHT prevents bone loss and fractures. Hormone therapy may also decrease risk of coronary artery disease. Cyclic progestin protects against endometrial cancer in patients receiving estrogen. Potential harms include breast cancer and endometrial cancer related to dosage and duration of therapy. Mastalgia and especially resumption of menstrual bleeding affect compliance. RECOMMENDATIONS: Use of OHT should be considered as early as possible in the perimenopausal period for women at increased risk of osteoporosis. Guidelines are provided for assessment of osteoporosis risk. Physicians and their patients should take into account the absolute and relative contraindications to OHT. Women with a uterus should be given estrogen in combination with a progestin. Ideally, therapy would be continued for a minimum of 10 years beyond menopause for maximum bone protection. Women using OHT should be carefully monitored and evaluated for possible adverse events. This should include regular screening mammography, breast examination and, for some, endometrial surveillance. Specific dosages and treatment regimens are outlined.
PMCID: PMC1335456  PMID: 8837542
11.  Hip Fracture Incidence in Relation to Age, Menopausal Status, and Age at Menopause: Prospective Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000181.
Using data from the UK Million Women Study, Emily Banks and colleagues investigate the relationships between the incidence of hip fracture and a woman's age, menopausal status, and age at menopause.
Background
Bone mineral density is known to decrease rapidly after the menopause. There is limited evidence about the separate contributions of a woman's age, menopausal status and age at menopause to the incidence of hip fracture.
Methods and Findings
Over one million middle-aged women joined the UK Million Women Study in 1996–2001 providing information on their menopausal status, age at menopause, and other factors, which was updated, where possible, 3 y later. All women were registered with the UK National Health Service (NHS) and were routinely linked to information on cause-specific admissions to NHS hospitals. 561,609 women who had never used hormone replacement therapy and who provided complete information on menopausal variables (at baseline 25% were pre/perimenopausal and 75% postmenopausal) were followed up for a total of 3.4 million woman-years (an average 6.2 y per woman). During follow-up 1,676 (0.3%) were admitted to hospital with a first incident hip fracture. Among women aged 50–54 y the relative risk (RR) of hip fracture risk was significantly higher in postmenopausal than premenopausal women (adjusted RR 2.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22–4.04; p = 0.009); there were too few premenopausal women aged 55 y and over for valid comparisons. Among postmenopausal women, hip fracture incidence increased steeply with age (p<0.001), with rates being about seven times higher at age 70–74 y than at 50–54 y (incidence rates of 0.82 versus 0.11 per 100 women over 5 y). Among postmenopausal women of a given age there was no significant difference in hip fracture incidence between women whose menopause was due to bilateral oophorectomy compared to a natural menopause (adjusted RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.94–1.55; p = 0.15), and age at menopause had little, if any, effect on hip fracture incidence.
Conclusions
At around the time of the menopause, hip fracture incidence is about twice as high in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women, but this effect is short lived. Among postmenopausal women, age is by far the main determinant of hip fracture incidence and, for women of a given age, their age at menopause has, at most, a weak additional effect.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Anyone can break a hip but most hip fractures occur in elderly people. As people age, their bones gradually lose minerals and become less dense, which weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. Because women lose bone density faster than men as they age and because women constitute the majority of the elderly, three-quarters of hip fractures occur in women. Hip fractures can cause long-term health problems and premature death. Thus, although surgical repair of a broken hip usually only requires a hospital stay of about a week, a quarter of elderly people who were living independently before their fracture have to stay in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury and a fifth of elderly people who break a hip die within the year. Most hip fractures are caused by falls. Regular exercise to improve strength and balance combined with review of medicines (to reduce side effects and interactions), regular eye examinations, and the removal of fall hazards from the home can help to prevent hip fractures in elderly people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Bone density decreases very rapidly in women immediately after menopause—the time when menstruation permanently stops—and then continues to decrease more slowly with age. Most women have their menopause in their early 50s but menopause can occur in younger women. Early menopause is thought to be a risk factor for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) and fractures later in life but little is known about how menopause influences hip fracture risk as women age. In this prospective study (a type of study in which a group of people is followed for several years to see whether they develop a particular condition), the researchers investigate the incidence of hip fractures in relation to age, menopausal status, and age at menopause among the participants of the Million Women Study. This study, which recruited 1.3 million women aged 50–64 years who attended UK breast cancer screening clinics between 1996 and 2001, has been investigating how reproductive and lifestyle factors affect women's health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
At enrollment and three years later, the study participants provided information about their menopausal status and other health and lifestyle factors likely to affect their fracture risk. From these data, the researchers identified more than half a million women who had never used hormone replacement therapy (which reduces fracture risk) and who had given complete information about their menopausal status. They then looked for statistical associations between the occurrence of a first hip fracture in these women over the next few years and their age, menopausal status, and age at menopause. Among women aged 50–54 years, postmenopausal women were twice as likely to have a hip fracture as premenopausal women. Among postmenopausal women, the incidence of hip fractures increased steeply with age and was seven times higher in 70–74-year olds than in 50–54-year olds. Women who had their menopause before age 45 had a slightly increased risk of hip fracture but any effect of age at menopause on the risk of hip fracture was small compared to the effect of age itself, and the slightly increased risk may have been due to other factors that could not be fully accounted for in the analysis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that around the time of menopause, although hip fractures are rare, the risk of a fracture in postmenopausal women is twice that in premenopausal women. The findings also show that among postmenopausal women, age is the major determinant of hip fracture risk and that for women of a given age, their age at menopause has little effect on hip fracture risk. Women attending breast cancer screening clinics and completing questionnaires about their health may not be representative of the general population. Furthermore, these findings rely on women self-reporting their menopausal status accurately. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that clinicians advising women about hip fracture prevention should probably base their advice on the woman's age and on age-related factors such as frailty rather than on factors related to menopause. Clinicians can also now reassure elderly women who had an early menopause that their risk of hip fracture is unlikely to be higher than that of similar women who had a later menopause.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000181.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has detailed information about hip fractures
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoloskeletal and Skin Diseases has an interactive feature called “Check up on your bones and provides detailed information about osteoporosis, including advice on fall prevention
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a fact sheet about hip fractures among older adults
MedlinePlus has links to resources about hip fracture, osteoporosis, and menopause (in English and Spanish)
More information on the Million Women Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000181
PMCID: PMC2766835  PMID: 19901981
12.  Profile of bazedoxifene/conjugated estrogens for the treatment of estrogen deficiency symptoms and osteoporosis in women at risk of fracture 
Decreasing levels of estrogens during menopause are associated with reduced bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Many women also experience bothersome vasomotor and vaginal symptoms during the menopausal transition. Results of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials have shown that both systemic estrogen therapy or hormone therapy (estrogen combined with a progestin) are useful to prevent bone loss, and they are the most effective treatment for such climacteric symptoms as hot flushes, sweating, vaginal dryness, and dyspareunia. Unfortunately, estrogen therapy and hormone therapy increase the risk of endometrial and breast cancer, respectively. The selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) result in positive estrogenic effects on bone, with no negative effects on the endometrium and breast but do not provide relief from postmenopausal symptoms. The combination of a SERM with estrogen as a tissue selective estrogen complex (TSEC) is a new strategy for the prevention of bone loss and the treatment of climacteric symptoms. This combination is particularly interesting from a clinical point of view, taking into account that estrogen alone did not increase breast cancer risk by the Women’s Health Initiative. TSEC is hypothesized to provide the benefits of estrogen-alone therapy, with an improved tolerability profile because the SERM component can make possible the elimination of progestin. The objective of this review was to critically evaluate the evidence from the reports published to date on the use of bazedoxifene (a third-generation SERM) in combination with conjugated estrogens in postmenopausal women. The conclusion is that effectively, the combination of bazedoxifene and conjugated estrogens may be a promising alternative to hormone therapy for the prevention of osteoporosis and the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms in non-hysterectomized postmenopausal women.
doi:10.2147/DDDT.S47807
PMCID: PMC3724601  PMID: 23901263
tissue selective estrogen complex; menopause; bone mineral density; bone turnover markers; climacteric symptoms
13.  Soy consumption during menopause 
In developed countries, the life expectancy of women is currently extending more than 30 years beyond the age of menopause. The menopausal transition is often associated with complaints. The conflicting results on the effectivity of phytoestrogens to alleviate menopausal symptoms. This discrepancy in treatment effect may be due to the large interindividual variation in isoflavone bioavailability in general and equol production in particular. Equol, a microbial metabolite of daidzein, has been hypothesized as a clue to the effectiveness of soy and its isoflavones, but only about 30-50% of the population harbor an intestinal microbial ecosystem supporting the conversion of daidzein into equol.
There is much concern on breast cancer, since this incidence of this disease increases with age. There is indication that soy phytoestrogens may decrease this breast cancer incidence. In order to evaluate the estrogenic potential of these exposure levels, we studied the isoflavone-derived E2α- and E2β-equivalents (i.e. 17β-estradiol (E2)-equivalents towards ERα and ERβ, respectively) in human breast tissue. Total isoflavones showed a breast adipose/glandular tissue distribution of 40/60 and their derived E2β-equivalents exceeded on average 21 ± 4 and 40 ± 10 times the endogenous E2 concentrations in corresponding adipose and glandular biopsies, respectively, whereas the E2α/E2 ratios were 0.4 ± 0.1 and 0.8 ± 0.2 in adipose and glandular breast tissue, respectively. These calculations suggest that, at least in this case, soy consumption could elicit partial ERβ agonistic effects in human breast tissue. We are currently characterizing the differential activation of estrogen-responsive genes between dietary isoflavones, the chemopreventive selective ER modulators tamoxifen and raloxifene and exogenous estrogens in a controlled dietary intervention trial that integrates data on the exposure to estrogenically active compounds, expression of isoflavone and estrogen target genes, and epigenetic events.
During the menopause, there is a close relation between the drop in serum estrogen and negative metabolic changes such as the increase in bone resorption and negative change in the serum lipid profile. Randomized controlled trials measuring bone turnover markers in menopausal women revealed that soy isoflavone supplements significantly but moderately decrease the bone resorption marker urinary deoxypyridinoline without significant effects on the bone formation markers serum bone alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin.
PMCID: PMC3991438  PMID: 24753886
Bone resorption; estrogens; isoflavones; lipid profile; menopause; phytoestrogens; soy
14.  Vascular Effects of Estrogenic Menopausal Hormone Therapy 
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more common in men and postmenopausal women (Post-MW) than premenopausal women (Pre-MW). Despite recent advances in preventive measures, the incidence of CVD in women has shown a rise that matched the increase in the Post-MW population. The increased incidence of CVD in Post-MW has been related to the decline in estrogen levels, and hence suggested vascular benefits of endogenous estrogen. Experimental studies have identified estrogen receptor ERα, ERβ and a novel estrogen binding membrane protein GPR30 (GPER) in blood vessels of humans and experimental animals. The interaction of estrogen with vascular ERs mediates both genomic and non-genomic effects. Estrogen promotes endothelium-dependent relaxation by increasing nitric oxide, prostacyclin, and hyperpolarizing factor. Estrogen also inhibits the mechanisms of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) contraction including [Ca2+]i, protein kinase C and Rho-kinase. Additional effects of estrogen on the vascular cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix, lipid profile and the vascular inflammatory response have been reported. In addition to the experimental evidence in animal models and vascular cells, initial observational studies in women using menopausal hormonal therapy (MHT) have suggested that estrogen may protect against CVD. However, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) such as the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which examined the effects of conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) in older women with established CVD (HERS) or without overt CVD (WHI), failed to demonstrate protective vascular effects of estrogen treatment. Despite the initial set-back from the results of MHT RCTs, growing evidence now supports the ‘timing hypothesis’, which suggests that MHT could increase the risk of CVD if started late after menopause, but may produce beneficial cardiovascular effects in younger women during the perimenopausal period. The choice of an appropriate MHT dose, route of administration, and estrogen/progestin combination could maximize the vascular benefits of MHT and minimize other adverse effects, especially if given within a reasonably short time after menopause to women that seek MHT for the relief of menopausal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3227781  PMID: 21864249
sex hormones; progesterone; testosterone; phytoestrogens; estrogen receptor; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension
15.  Hormonal Contraception and the Risk of HIV Acquisition: An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(1):e1001778.
In a meta-analysis of individual participant data, Charles Morrison and colleagues explore the association between hormonal contraception use and risk of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Background
Observational studies of a putative association between hormonal contraception (HC) and HIV acquisition have produced conflicting results. We conducted an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis of studies from sub-Saharan Africa to compare the incidence of HIV infection in women using combined oral contraceptives (COCs) or the injectable progestins depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) or norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) with women not using HC.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies measured HC exposure and incident HIV infection prospectively using standardized measures, enrolled women aged 15–49 y, recorded ≥15 incident HIV infections, and measured prespecified covariates. Our primary analysis estimated the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) using two-stage random effects meta-analysis, controlling for region, marital status, age, number of sex partners, and condom use. We included 18 studies, including 37,124 women (43,613 woman-years) and 1,830 incident HIV infections. Relative to no HC use, the aHR for HIV acquisition was 1.50 (95% CI 1.24–1.83) for DMPA use, 1.24 (95% CI 0.84–1.82) for NET-EN use, and 1.03 (95% CI 0.88–1.20) for COC use. Between-study heterogeneity was mild (I2 < 50%). DMPA use was associated with increased HIV acquisition compared with COC use (aHR 1.43, 95% CI 1.23–1.67) and NET-EN use (aHR 1.32, 95% CI 1.08–1.61). Effect estimates were attenuated for studies at lower risk of methodological bias (compared with no HC use, aHR for DMPA use 1.22, 95% CI 0.99–1.50; for NET-EN use 0.67, 95% CI 0.47–0.96; and for COC use 0.91, 95% CI 0.73–1.41) compared to those at higher risk of bias (pinteraction = 0.003). Neither age nor herpes simplex virus type 2 infection status modified the HC–HIV relationship.
Conclusions
This IPD meta-analysis found no evidence that COC or NET-EN use increases women’s risk of HIV but adds to the evidence that DMPA may increase HIV risk, underscoring the need for additional safe and effective contraceptive options for women at high HIV risk. A randomized controlled trial would provide more definitive evidence about the effects of hormonal contraception, particularly DMPA, on HIV risk.
Editors’ Summary
Background
AIDS has killed about 36 million people since the first recorded case of the disease in 1981. About 35 million people (including 25 million living in sub-Saharan Africa) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and every year, another 2.3 million people become newly infected with HIV. At the beginning of the epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV. Now, about half of all adults infected with HIV are women. In 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 years occurred among women, and it is estimated that, worldwide, 50 young women are newly infected with HIV every hour. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected intercourse with an infected male partner—biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected intercourse as men. A woman’s risk of becoming infected with HIV can be reduced by abstaining from sex, by having one or a few partners, and by always using condoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women and societies both benefit from effective contraception. When contraception is available, women can avoid unintended pregnancies, fewer women and babies die during pregnancy and childbirth, and maternal and infant health improves. However, some (but not all) observational studies (investigations that measure associations between the characteristics of participants and their subsequent development of specific diseases) have reported an association between hormonal contraceptive use and an increased risk of HIV acquisition by women. So, does hormonal contraception increase the risk of HIV acquisition among women or not? Here, to investigate this question, the researchers undertake an individual participant data meta-analysis of studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa (a region where both HIV infection and unintended pregnancies are common) to compare the incidence of HIV infection (the number of new cases in a population during a given time period) among women using and not using hormonal contraception. Meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies; an individual participant data meta-analysis combines the data recorded for each individual involved in the studies rather than the aggregated results from each study.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 18 studies that measured hormonal contraceptive use and incident HIV infection among women aged 15–49 years living in sub-Saharan Africa in their meta-analysis. More than 37,000 women took part in these studies, and 1,830 became newly infected with HIV. Half of the women were not using hormonal contraception, a quarter were using depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA; an injectable hormonal contraceptive), and the remainder were using combined oral contraceptives (COCs) or norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN, another injectable contraceptive). After adjustment for other factors likely to influence HIV acquisition (for example, condom use), women using DMPA had a 1.5-fold increased risk of HIV acquisition compared to women not using hormonal contraception. There was a slightly increased risk of HIV acquisition among women using NET-EN compared to women not using hormonal contraception, but this increase was not statistically significant (it may have happened by chance alone). There was no increased risk of HIV acquisition associated with COC use. DMPA use was associated with a 1.43-fold and 1.32-fold increased risk of HIV acquisition compared with COC and NET-EN use, respectively. Finally, neither age nor herpes simplex virus 2 infection status modified the effect of hormonal contraceptive use on HIV acquisition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this individual patient data meta-analysis provide no evidence that COC or NET-EN use increases a woman’s risk of acquiring HIV, but add to the evidence suggesting that DMPA use increases the risk of HIV acquisition. These findings are likely to be more accurate than those of previous meta-analyses that used aggregated data but are likely to be limited by the quality, design, and representativeness of the studies included in the analysis. These findings nevertheless highlight the need to develop additional safe and effective contraceptive options for women at risk of HIV, particularly those living in sub-Saharan Africa, where although contraceptive use is generally low, DMPA is the most widely used hormonal contraceptive. In addition, these findings highlight the need to initiate randomized controlled trials to provide more definitive evidence of the effects of hormonal contraception, particularly DMPA, on HIV risk.
Additional Information.
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001778.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, including personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS and a news report on this meta-analysis
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on women, HIV, and AIDS, and on HIV and AIDS in South Africa (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages); information about a 2012 WHO technical consultation about hormonal contraception and HIV
The 2013 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it; UNAIDS also provides information about HIV and hormonal contraception
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001778
PMCID: PMC4303292  PMID: 25612136
16.  Cognitive behavioral therapy and physical exercise for climacteric symptoms in breast cancer patients experiencing treatment-induced menopause: design of a multicenter trial 
BMC Women's Health  2009;9:15.
Background
Premature menopause is a major concern of younger women undergoing adjuvant therapy for breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy is contraindicated in women with a history of breast cancer. Non-hormonal medications show a range of bothersome side-effects. There is growing evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and physical exercise can have a positive impact on symptoms in naturally occurring menopause. The objective of this study is to investigate the efficacy of these interventions among women with breast cancer experiencing treatment-induced menopause.
Methods/design
In a randomized, controlled, multicenter trial, we are evaluating the effectiveness of CBT/relaxation, of physical exercise and of these two program elements combined, in reducing menopausal symptoms, improving sexual functioning, reducing emotional distress, and in improving the health-related quality of life of younger breast cancer patients who experience treatment-induced menopause. 325 breast cancer patients (aged < 50) are being recruited from hospitals in the Amsterdam region, and randomly allocated to one of the three treatment groups or a 'waiting list' control group. Self-administered questionnaires are completed by the patients at baseline, and at 12 weeks (T1) and 6 months (T2) post-study entry. Upon completion of the study, women assigned to the control group will be given the choice of undergoing either the CBT or physical exercise program.
Discussion
Cognitive behavioral therapy and physical exercise are potentially useful treatments among women with breast cancer undergoing treatment-induced, premature menopause. For these patients, hormonal and non-hormonal therapies are contraindicated or have a range of bothersome side-effects. Hence, research into these interventions is needed, before dissemination and implementation in the current health care system can take place.
Trial registration
The study is registered at the Netherlands Trial Register (NTR1165) and ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00582244).
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-9-15
PMCID: PMC2706817  PMID: 19500403
17.  Soy use and vasomotor symptoms: Soy Estrogen Alternative follow-up study 
Purpose
To evaluate vasomotor symptoms and soy and hormone therapy use in women who had previously participated in the Soy Estrogen Alternative (SEA) study, a trial conducted to compare the effects of soy protein supplements containing differing levels of isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, chronic disease risk factors, and health-related quality of life in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Participants and methods
Two years after the SEA study ended participants were recontacted to complete questionnaires to quantify their health status, medications, menopausal symptoms, and their use of hormone therapy and soy-based foods and supplements. Participants were also asked to record vasomotor symptoms for seven days.
Results
Surveys were collected from 182 of the 241 participants who had been enrolled in the SEA study (76% response rate). Women were 55 ± 2.8 years of age, well educated (80% more than high school), and 93% reported good to excellent health. All but six reported experiencing at least one menopausal symptom, and 56% reported one or more hot flashes on one or more days. Eighty-one women (45%) continued to use soy for menopausal symptom relief, and 58 (32%) were using hormone therapy. Women taking hormone therapy were experiencing fewer and less severe hot flashes than those who were not taking hormone therapy (P < 0.001); hot flash frequency and severity did not differ significantly between those who did and did not use soy, after controlling for hormone therapy use.
Conclusion
Most participants reported they were still experiencing menopausal symptoms. Additionally, half of the most symptomatic women (not taking hormone therapy) were still consuming soy products for vasomotor symptoms.
doi:10.2147/IJWH.S12863
PMCID: PMC2990907  PMID: 21151685
menopause; vasomotor symptoms; soy consumption; survey
18.  Changing Concepts: Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Breast Cancer 
Hormone therapy is still used by millions of women for menopausal symptoms. Concerns regarding hormone therapy and breast cancer were initially based on case reports and retrospective case–control studies. However, recent results from large prospective cohort studies and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) randomized placebo-controlled hormone therapy trials have substantially changed concepts regarding how estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin influence breast cancer. The preponderance of observational studies suggested that estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin both increased the risk of breast cancer, with cancers commonly diagnosed at an early stage. However, substantially different results emerged from the WHI randomized hormone therapy trials. In the WHI trial evaluating estrogen plus progestin in postmenopausal women with an intact uterus, combined hormone therapy statistically significantly increased the risk of breast cancer and hindered breast cancer detection, leading to delayed diagnosis and a statistically significant increase in breast cancer mortality. By contrast, estrogen alone use by postmenopausal women with prior hysterectomy in the WHI trial did not substantially interfere with breast cancer detection and statistically significantly decreased the risk of breast cancer. Differential mammography usage patterns may explain differences between observational study and randomized trial results. In clinical practice, hormone therapy users have mammograms more frequently than nonusers, leading to more and earlier stage cancer detection. By contrast, in the WHI randomized trials, mammogram frequency was protocol mandated and balanced between comparison groups. Currently, the different effects of estrogen plus progestin vs estrogen alone on breast cancer are not completely understood.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djs014
PMCID: PMC3317878  PMID: 22427684
19.  Contemporary Alternatives to Plant Estrogens for Menopause 
Maturitas  2006;55(Suppl 1):S3-13.
Objectives
Every year, millions of women begin the peri-menopause and may experience a number of symptoms related to this transition. Many women are reluctant to use exogenous hormone therapy for treatment of menopausal symptoms and are turning to botanical and dietary supplements (BDS) for relief. This paper reviews the literature on alternatives to plant estrogens for relief of menopausal symptoms.
Methods
The MEDLINE database was searched for clinical trials of non-estrogenic plant extracts for menopausal symptoms. To be included, studies had to include peri- or postmenopausal women as subjects. All clinical trials (randomized-controlled trials, open trials, and comparison group studies) were included for this review.
Results
Black Cohosh appears to be one of the most effective botanicals for relief of vasomotor symptoms, while St. John’s wort can improve mood disorders related to the menopausal transition. Many other botanicals have limited evidence to demonstrate safety and efficacy for relief of symptoms related to menopause.
Conclusions
A growing body of evidence suggests that some botanicals and dietary supplements could result in improved clinical outcomes. Health care providers should discuss these issues with their patients so they can assist them in managing these alternative therapies through an evidence-based approach.
doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2006.06.012
PMCID: PMC1780040  PMID: 16884867
Menopause; botanical supplements; dietary supplements
20.  Long-term aerobic exercise and omega-3 supplementation modulate osteoporosis through inflammatory mechanisms in post-menopausal women: a randomized, repeated measures study 
Background
Evidence indicates that dietary fats and physical activity influence bone health. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of long-term aerobic exercise and omega-3 (N-3) supplementation on serum inflammatory markers, bone mineral density (BMD), and bone biomarkers in post-menopausal women.
Methods
Seventy-nine healthy sedentary post-menopausal women aged 58-78 years participated in this study. Subjects were randomized to one of 4 groups: exercise + supplement (E+S, n = 21), exercise (E, n = 20), supplement (S, n = 20), and control (Con, n = 18) groups. The subjects in the E+S and E groups performed aerobic exercise training (walking and jogging) up to 65% of HRmax, three times a week for 24 weeks. Subjects in the E+S and S groups consumed 1000 mg/d N-3 for 24 weeks. The lumbar spine (L2-L4) and femoral neck BMD, serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, interleukin (IL) 6, prostaglandin (PG) E2, estrogen, osteocalcin, 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1, 25 Vit D), C-telopeptide (CTX), parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcitonin (CT) were measured at baseline, the end of week 12 and 24.
Results
Serum estrogen, osteocalcin, 1, 25 Vit D, CT, L2-L4 and femoral neck BMD measures increased (P < 0.05) and the serum CTX, PTH, TNF-α, IL-6, and PGE2 decreased (P < 0.05) in E + S group after the 24 wk intervention but not in the E or S intervention groups. L2-L4 and femoral neck BMD, estrogen, osteocalcin, and CT were negatively (P < 0.05) correlated with TNF-α and PGE2. PTH and CT were correlated positively and negatively with IL-6, respectively (P < 0.05).
Conclusions
The present study demonstrates that long-term aerobic exercise training plus N-3 supplementation have a synergistic effect in attenuating inflammation and augmenting BMD in post-menopausal osteoporosis.
doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-71
PMCID: PMC3212907  PMID: 21999620
Bone Mineral Density; Inflammation; Post-menopausal Women; Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Physical Activity
21.  Lessons Learned From the Women’s Health Initiative Trials of Menopausal Hormone Therapy 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2013;121(1):172-176.
We re-evaluate the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) findings and their implications for clinical practice. Menopausal hormone therapy (HT) was effective for relief of vasomotor symptoms, and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) tended to be reduced in women close to menopause compared to the increased risk in women more distant from menopause. In recently menopausal women, short-term absolute risks of stroke and venous thromboembolism were small. Estrogen plus progestin therapy, but not estrogen therapy (ET), increased the risk of breast cancer, with a suggestion of greater risk when initiated close to the menopause. Menopausal HT increased the risk of CHD in women more than 20 years distant from menopause, particularly in women with vasomotor symptoms. It remains unknown whether the suggestive benefit for CHD in younger women will translate into benefits or harms if menopausal HT is continued into older ages. Based on WHI data, the use of menopausal HT for fewer than 5 years is a reasonable option for the relief of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms. The risks seen with EPT suggest careful periodic re-assessment of the ongoing therapy needs for women taking estrogen plus progestin therapy. The more favorable profile of ET allows for individualized management with respect to duration of use when symptoms persist. For both ET and estrogen plus progestin therapy the baseline risk profile of the individual woman needs to be taken into account. Menopausal HT is not suitable for long-term prevention of CHD given risks of stroke, venous thromboembolism, and breast cancer (for estrogen plus progestin therapy) found in both clinical trials and in observational studies.
PMCID: PMC3547645  PMID: 23262943
22.  Benefits and risks of hormonal contraception for women 
Scientific background
A large proportion of women of reproductive age in Germany use various methods of pregnancy prevention (contraception), among them various hormone-based methods. Hormonal contraceptives may be divided into combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives (pills, skin patches, vaginal rings), progestogen-only contraceptives (pills, injections, implants, hormone spirals) and emergency contraceptives.
Research questions
The evaluation addressed the question of benefits and risks of hormonal contraceptives, their economic effects as well as their ethical-social and legal implications.
Methods
A systematic literature search was conducted in April 2006 starting from 2000. The evaluation is primarily based on systematic reviews.
Results
In perfect use, all hormonal contraceptives excluding emergency contraceptives proved to be the most effective reversible contraceptive methods (rate of unintended pregnancies 0.05% to 0.3%). However, the typical use of oral contraceptives, injections, skin patches, and vaginal rings, which also considers possible application errors, showed a lower contraceptive efficacy (rate of unintended pregnancies 3% to 8%). It was lower than that of copper spirals.
The risk of venous thromboembolism increased three to six times in users of hormonal contraceptives, the risks of stroke and myocardial infarction two to three times. The risk declined after discontinuation of use. The effects were estrogen-dose and progestogen-type dependent.
The use of hormonal contraceptives showed a relative risk of ovarian and endometrial carcinomas of approximately 0.5 or 0.7, of breast and cervical cancer of approximately 1.2 or 1.6. The effect remained several years after discontinuation of use. The results concerning hepatocellular carcinoma suggested a carcinogenic effect.
In women with acne, an improvement due to use of hormonal contraceptives was proven. Cervical chlamydial infections were more frequent in users of hormonal contraception. Headache appeared mostly only at the beginning of the use of combined oral contraceptives. Progestogen-only contraceptives worsened the results of the glucose tolerance test. A review of low evidence reported further risks of hormonal contraceptives (concerning menstrual problems, ovarian cysts, bone density, thyroid diseases and rheumatoid arthritis) as well as further benefits (concerning blood pressure and Crohn’s disease).
Hormonal spirals were shown to be more effective than spirals which do not release hormones. In emergency contraception, Levonorgestrel was more effective than the Yuzpe method. Most other proven differences between hormonal contraceptives were related to menstrual problems.
After spirals with or without hormone release, the other hormonal contraceptives were shown in typical use to be the second most cost-effective reversible methods of contraception.
Discussion
The addressed questions could be answered only on relatively low evidence level, partly only for applications with estrogen doses which are not used in Germany any more. The transferability of the results of the analysed primary health-economics studies on the current situation in Germany is limited (clinical assumptions from out-dated information sources of low evidence levels, cost assumptions from the American health system).
Conclusions
In perfect use, hormonal contraceptives have to be classified as the most effective reversible contraceptive methods. For the individual decision concerning the use of hormonal contraception, benefits should be related to the additional risks. Alternative methods such as spirals should be prioritised if perfect use seems to be impossible. In this case, spirals are also preferable from health-economics perspective. No ethical-social or legal conclusions can be derived from the available data.
PMCID: PMC3011324  PMID: 21289940
23.  Haplotypes of the Estrogen receptor beta (ESR2) gene and breast cancer risk 
Exposure to exogenous (oral contraceptives, post-menopausal hormone therapy) and endogenous (number of ovulatory cycles, adiposity) steroid hormones is associated with breast cancer risk. Breast cancer risk associated with these exposures could hypothetically be modified by genes in the steroid hormone synthesis, metabolism, and signaling pathways. Estrogen receptors are the first step along the path of signaling cell growth and development upon stimulation with estrogens. The National Cancer Institute Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium has systematically selected haplotype tagging SNPs in genes along the steroid hormone synthesis, metabolism, and binding pathways, including the estrogen receptor beta (ESR2) gene. Four htSNPs tag the six major (> 5% frequency) haplotypes of the ESR2 gene. These polymorphisms have been genotyped in 5,789 breast cancer cases and 7,761 controls nested within the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II, European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, Multiethnic Cohort, Nurses’ Health Study, and Women’s Health Study cohorts. None of the SNPs were independently associated with breast cancer risk. One haplotype of the ESR2 gene was associated with breast cancer risk before correction for multiple testing (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.07–1.28, p=0.0007). This haplotype remained associated with breast cancer risk after adjustment for multiple testing using a permutation procedure. There was no statistically significant heterogeneity in SNP or haplotype odds ratios across cohorts. These data suggest that inherited variants in ESR2, while possibly conferring a small increased risk of breast cancer, are not associated with appreciable (OR > 1.2) changes in breast cancer risk among Caucasian women.
doi:10.1002/ijc.23127
PMCID: PMC2796078  PMID: 17935138
24.  Ovarian Cancer and Body Size: Individual Participant Meta-Analysis Including 25,157 Women with Ovarian Cancer from 47 Epidemiological Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001200.
A reanalysis of published and unpublished data from epidemiological studies examines the association between height, body mass index, and the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Background
Only about half the studies that have collected information on the relevance of women's height and body mass index to their risk of developing ovarian cancer have published their results, and findings are inconsistent. Here, we bring together the worldwide evidence, published and unpublished, and describe these relationships.
Methods and Findings
Individual data on 25,157 women with ovarian cancer and 81,311 women without ovarian cancer from 47 epidemiological studies were collected, checked, and analysed centrally. Adjusted relative risks of ovarian cancer were calculated, by height and by body mass index.
Ovarian cancer risk increased significantly with height and with body mass index, except in studies using hospital controls. For other study designs, the relative risk of ovarian cancer per 5 cm increase in height was 1.07 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–1.09; p<0.001); this relationship did not vary significantly by women's age, year of birth, education, age at menarche, parity, menopausal status, smoking, alcohol consumption, having had a hysterectomy, having first degree relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, use of oral contraceptives, or use of menopausal hormone therapy. For body mass index, there was significant heterogeneity (p<0.001) in the findings between ever-users and never-users of menopausal hormone therapy, but not by the 11 other factors listed above. The relative risk for ovarian cancer per 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index was 1.10 (95% CI, 1.07–1.13; p<0.001) in never-users and 0.95 (95% CI, 0.92–0.99; p = 0.02) in ever-users of hormone therapy.
Conclusions
Ovarian cancer is associated with height and, among never-users of hormone therapy, with body mass index. In high-income countries, both height and body mass index have been increasing in birth cohorts now developing the disease. If all other relevant factors had remained constant, then these increases in height and weight would be associated with a 3% increase in ovarian cancer incidence per decade.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cancer of the ovaries, usually referred to as ovarian cancer, is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women, and, unfortunately, symptoms (such as abdominal pain and swelling) usually occur late in the disease process; fewer than one-third of ovarian cancers are detected before they have spread outside of the ovaries. There is no definitive evidence that screening reduces mortality from ovarian cancer, and given the poor prognosis of advanced ovarian cancer, there has been much research over recent years to increase understanding of this serious condition. There are recognized risk factors that increase the chance of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, having fewer children, not having used oral contraceptives, and use of menopausal hormone therapy. Age and oral contraceptive use have by far the biggest impact on ovarian cancer risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
To date, there is no definitive information about the relevance of women's height, weight, and body mass index to their subsequent risk of developing ovarian cancer. There have been roughly 50 epidemiological studies of ovarian cancer, but only about half of these studies have published results on the association between body size and ovarian cancer risk, and so far, these findings have been inconsistent. Therefore, the researchers—an international collaboration of researchers studying ovarian cancer—re-analyzed the available epidemiological evidence to investigate the relationship between ovarian cancer risk and adult height, weight, and body mass index, and to examine the consistency of the findings across study designs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
After an extensive literature search, the researchers identified 47 eligible studies that collected individual data on women's reproductive history, use of hormonal therapies, height, weight, and/or body mass index, and in which the principal investigators of each study accepted the invitation from the researchers to be involved in the re-analysis. The researchers combined data from the different studies. To ensure that women in one study were only directly compared with controls (similar women without ovarian cancer) in the same study, all analyses were routinely stratified by study, center within study, age, parity, use of oral contraceptives, use of hormonal therapy for menopause, and menopausal status or hysterectomy.
The 47 studies were conducted in 14 countries and comprised a total of 25,157 women with ovarian cancer (mostly from Europe and North America) and 81,311 women without ovarian cancer. The researchers found a significant increase in relative risk (1.07) of ovarian cancer per 5 cm increase in height. Furthermore, this risk did not vary depending on other studied factors—age, year of birth, education, age at menarche, parity, menopausal status, smoking, alcohol consumption, having had a hysterectomy, having first degree relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, use of oral contraceptives, or use of menopausal hormone therapy. However, the researchers found that for body mass index, the risks depended on whether women had ever taken menopausal hormone therapy: the relative risk for ovarian cancer per 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index was 1.10 in women who had never taken menopausal hormone therapy but was only 0.95 in women who had previously taken menopausal hormone therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that increasing height can be considered as a risk factor for ovarian cancer and that in women who have never taken menopausal hormone therapy, increased body mass index can be considered an additional risk factor. These findings have public health implications, especially in high-income countries, because the average height of women has increased by about 1 cm per decade and average body mass index has increased by about 1 kg/m2 per decade. The findings suggest an associated increase in ovarian cancer incidence of 3% per decade if all other factors relevant for ovarian cancer remain constant.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001200.
The following organizations give more information on ovarian cancer which may be of use to patients: MedicineNet, the US National Cancer Institute, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Macmillan Cancer Support
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001200
PMCID: PMC3317899  PMID: 22606070
25.  Hormonal Therapy and Risk of Breast Cancer in Mexican Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79695.
The use of hormonal therapies, including hormonal contraceptives (HC) and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have been shown to influence breast cancer (BC) risk. However, the variations of these effects among populations and ethnic groups are not completely documented, especially among Hispanic women. We evaluated the association between HC and premenopausal BC risk, and between HRT and postmenopausal BC risk in Mexican women. Data from a Mexican multi-center population-based case–control study ofwomen aged 35 to 69 years were analysed. A total of 1000 cases and 1074 matched controls were recruited between 2004 and 2007. Information on hormonal therapy was collected through a structured questionnaire. Results were analysed using conditional logistic regression models. Overall, HC were used by 422/891 (47.3%) premenopausal women and HRT was used by 220/1117 (19.7%) postmenopausal women. For HC, odds ratios (ORs) for BC were 1.11 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.82, 1.49) for current users and 1.68 (95% CI: 0.67, 4.21) for ever-users. No clear effect of duration of use was observed. For HRT, the OR for BC was significantly increased in ever users (OR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.08). A non-significant increased risk was observed for combined estrogen/progestin, (OR =  1.85; 95% CI: 0.84, 4.07) whereas no effect was observed for the use of estrogen alone (OR = 1.14; 95% CI: 0.68, 1.91). Our results indicate that, HC had a non-significant effect on the risk of pre-menopausal BC, but suggested that injected contraceptives may slightly increase the risk, whereas HRT had a significant effect on post-menopausal BC in this population. This study provides new information about the effects of HC and HRT on BC risk in a Mexican population, which may be of relevance for the population of Latin America as a whole.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079695
PMCID: PMC3829873  PMID: 24260282

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