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Report: Hormone Study Returned Big Savings

A landmark study that found hormone therapy may harm rather than help women after menopause cost the U.S. government $260 million. But the study results transformed medical practice. And that saved the health care system $37 billion, a new analysis concludes. That's $140 for every dollar spent. The National Institutes of Health funded the study, called the Women's Health Initiative. Older women, average age 63, were randomly assigned to receive either hormone treatment or placebo (fake) pills. The study was halted early, in 2002. Women taking estrogen plus progesterone had higher rates of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer than those who got the placebo. There was no effect on heart attack or breast cancer rates in a second group of women who were given estrogen only. But they also had higher risks of stroke and blood clots.

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