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Articles disputing link between HRT and breast cancer are “ridiculous”

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e513 (Published 19 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e513
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

A leading epidemiologist has condemned a group of authors for writing and a journal for publishing a series of articles challenging the well established link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer, describing their actions as “a disgrace.”

Klim McPherson, visiting professor of Public Health Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Oxford, described the arguments used by the authors as “tortuous and ridiculous.”

He told the BMJ, “If the scientific consensus can incorporate uncertainty about this relationship then people can market and prescribe HRT and downplay its importance.”

Samuel Shapiro, visiting professor of epidemiology at the University of Cape Town, and colleagues looked at the design of three major pieces of research that prompted a rethink of the long term safety of HRT—the Collaborative Reanalysis (Lancet 1997;98:498-509), the Women’s Health Initiative (JAMA 2002;288:321-3; JAMA 2006;295:1647-57), and the Million Women Study (Lancet 2003;362:419-27). Their articles are published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care (doi:10.1136/jfprhc.2011.0078; doi:10.1136/jfprhc-2011-0090; doi:10.1136/jfprhc-2011-0091;doi:10.1136/jfprhc-2011-100229).

The studies are littered with design flaws, bias, and “biological implausibility,” say the authors. They conclude that …

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