Women's Health Initiative estrogen plus progestin clinical trial: a study that does not allow establishing relevant clinical risks

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Abstract

Objective:

This study aims to determine time differences (differences in restricted mean survival times [RMSTs]) in the onset of invasive breast cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism, colorectal cancer, and hip fracture between the placebo group and the conjugated equine estrogens 0.625 mg plus medroxyprogesterone acetate 2.5 mg group of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial based on survival curves of the original report and to provide adequate interpretation of the clinical effects of a given intervention.

Methods:

Distribution of survival function was obtained from cumulative hazard plots of the WHI report; Monte Carlo simulation was performed to obtain censored observations for each outcome, in which assumptions of the Cox model were evaluated once corresponding hazard ratios had been estimated. Using estimation methods such as numerical integration, pseudovalues, and flexible parametric modeling, we determined differences in RMSTs for each outcome.

Results:

Obtained cumulative hazard plots, hazard ratios, and outcome rates from the simulated model did not show differences in relation to the original WHI report. The differences in RMST between placebo and conjugated equine estrogens 0.625 mg plus medroxyprogesterone acetate 2.5 mg (in flexible parametric modeling) were 1.17 days (95% CI, −2.25 to 4.59) for invasive breast cancer, 7.50 days (95% CI, 2.90 to 12.11) for coronary heart disease, 2.75 days (95% CI, −0.84 to 6.34) for stroke, 4.23 days (95% CI, 1.82 to 6.64) for pulmonary embolism, −2.73 days (95% CI, −5.32 to −0.13) for colorectal cancer, and −2.77 days (95% CI, −5.44 to −0.1) for hip fracture.

Conclusions:

The differences in RMST for the outcomes of the WHI study are too small to establish clinical risks related to hormone therapy use.

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