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Fixin' Healthcare

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - First Comes the Question

The Women's Health Initiative is a large and important project for the study of optimum health and how to achieve it. Three recent studies from the project presented conclusions contrary to accepted practice. As might be expected, this has generated broad interest and concern.

A report in 2002 concluded that hormone treatment for menopause created health risk that could not be justifed by the benefits. There were specific conditions of the study that did not apply to all treatment regimens and subsequent studies have qualified some of the previous conclusions. But, the bottom line is that a different perspective has been established for hormone therapy for menopause.

Recently, a study concluded that low-fat diets did not reduce the incidence of heart disease, stroke or cancer of the breast and colon. Another study demonstrated that supplemental calcium and vitamin D did not prevent bone fractures or colorectal cancer. Needless to say, these results have created confusion and concern. An article in the NY Times asked the question, "So what do women do now?"

People seek the comfort of certainty but certainty is relative at best. These studies are important but they did not cover all aspects of these complex areas. Until future studies clarify and refine the current conclusions, there is benefit to the re-examination of common practices. Keep an open mind, examine all the data, always consider the conditions that apply to a given individual and replace the false comfort of certainty with hope.

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