Media Doctor Canada
Follow us on Twitter








"Estrogen guards against heart disease"

Victoria Times Colonist

Source: Victoria Times Colonist

Published: 21 Jun 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

BOSTON - Younger women who start taking estrogen as soon as they enter menopause may be protected from heart disease, researchers said yesterday.
They found that women aged 50 to 59 who took estrogen were 30 per cent to 40 per cent less likely than women taking placebos to have large amounts of calcified plaque in their arteries - a widely accepted predictor of heart attack risk.
When women took their estrogen religiously, the risk was 60 per cent lower, they reported in the New England Journal of Medicine....

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The news article does a particularly good job of highlighting some of the known risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) including possibly raising the risk of blood clots, breast cancer and heart attacks in women taking the therapy. The article also does a good job of revealing the conflicts of interest of its sources. For example, the reporter reveals the medical consultant (who suggests many women should be put on estrogen) works for a pharmaceutical company that manufacturers HRT products.

A more accurate headline might read, "Women in their 50s taking HRT may also have a lowered risk for heart disease." Like so many news reports, the main message in the headline is somewhat disjointed from that of the full news story. Although the headline purports "Estrogen guards against heart disease [and] Hormone therapy found useful for younger women," the news report reveals "hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is not completely safe and women should not take it unless they have a good reason to." Moreover, the study finds HRT lowers women's risk for developing calcified plaques, which are a predictor of heart attacks. So, HRT does not prevent cardiovascular disease, per se, but one of the risk factors for the disease. Moreover, the news report finds HRT should not be used to prevent cardiovascular disease, but limited to treatment of menopausal symptoms.

public forum

(04 Jul 2022) S.Smith from very little writes,

"A classic case of press release journalism. These press releases land on reporter's desks daily, and the not-yet tuition free but also mortgage-laden reporter knows what is expected. She will call the sources helpfully given by the pharma marketing department from whence this drivel originates, re-arrange the prose or boldly shuffle the sentences somewhat and shazam! part of her daily quota is done, leaving time for the, possibly, one story that will make A1 if she can just get the contentious city councilor on the line with his comments about the major's new initiative."
(this comment has been moderated)

Media Doctor response,

"We do consider "reliance on press release" to be an important quality in determining the thoroughness of a story. Over-reliance on the press release is not good journalistic technique so would generally agree with the sentiment present in your comments."

voice your opinion in the forum

  • All comments and feedback submitted to Media Doctor are subject to editorial approval before being made viewable by the public. It may take up to a week for your comments to be approved. Additionally, no response will be given to questions posed in public comments. Media Doctor does not provide medical advice, or answers to medical questions posed by the public.
  • If you provide your email address it will not be displayed to the general public.
  • Comments may be edited by Media Doctor to remove defamatory or sensitive statements, and brand names.
  • Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).
Name: *
Comments: *
Copyright © Media Doctor Canada