Prof. makes headlines
Brian Sprague researches hormone use
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 21:09
A UVM professor has discovered that the number of women who use hormone therapy is on the decline.
Brian Sprague, assistant professor in the Office of Health Promotion Research, made national headlines for his discovery that the number of women who use post-menopausal hormone pills continues to drop.
After an initial study in 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative concluded that the risk associated with hormone therapy — an increased chance of chronic disease and breast cancer — did not outweigh the benefits.
Shortly after, the number of post-menopausal women taking hormone pills saw a sharp decrease.
Sprague and his team said they thought this was a dramatic short-term decline and decided to research what has happened in the 10 years since then.
“We were curious to see if there were any rebounds,” Sprague said. “Did the news of the story get old?”
Sprague discovered that about 22 percent of women over the age of 40 were taking hormones before the Women’s Health Initiative. A year after the study came out, the number of women using hormone therapy dropped to 11 percent.
Today, a decade after the initial study, only about five percent of women take hormones, he said.
“Declines in hormone use were observed among all ages, races or ethnicities, education, and income groups investigated,” the study stated.
Some clinicians suggest hormones may still be useful in low doses, but there is still a lot to debate, Sprague said.