Questions over NIH womens' health study

The Womens Health Initiative was a massive study started in 1991 that enrolled over 161,000 women to study low-fat diets, hormone replacement therapy and other health issues. Several of the findings, such as those suggesting that hormone therapy had adverse side effects and that low-fat diets don't do much to reduce heart disease and cancer, are now being challenged. The Wall Street Journal has an in-depth article looking at the initiative. It suggests that some of the communications from the NIH understated some of the more important findings, such as that the low-fat diet was effective in reducing cancer, partly because it got lost in the fact that that average low-fat diet wasn't that low in fat. In addition, the risks of hormone replacement therapy are greater for women in the upper age range specifically recruited for the trial rather than for younger women just going through menopause. Overall, the complexity of the study means that easy sound-bite answers were hard to come by.

- see the article in The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

PLUS: Apparently heart disease kills more women than men. Report