Prof Michael Baum brands Times' article suggesting links between HRT and Alzheimer's as "unhelpful and misleading"

Published: 12th March 2019

Professor Michael Baum, Prof Emeritus of Surgery, ULC, London issues a rapid response to an article in The Times suggesting a link between HRT and Alzheimer's.

"GPs and gynaecologists have a near impossible task of keeping up to date and counselling women who might be suffering from the often appalling symptoms of the menopausal syndrome that could be assuaged by HRT. This new paper is frankly unhelpful and misleading. The inevitable headlines in the media have added to the problem. Bad news about HRT is always picked by the press.

There are two serious problems with this paper. As always the relative risks look frightening yet in absolute terms we are looking at a number of 18 per 10,000 women on HRT.

The other problem, as hinted at by the authors, is the problem of selection bias in a case control study. The early symptoms of dementia might easily be confused by one of the common symptoms of the menopause, confusion or lapses of memory. Such a tiny difference in absolute risk could easily be explained away by this bias. Many women frightened off taking HRT may not live long enough to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dying prematurely from cardio-vascular and cerebra-vascular disease or the complications from pathological fractures. The BMJ now has a responsibility of repairing the damage."

Competing interests: No competing interests

07 March 2019

Michael Baum
Prof emeritus of surgery
UCL
London

@MichaelBaum11


Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre was founded by leading menopause specialist and GP, Dr Louise Newson, and officially opened in September 2018 by Liz Earle MBE. Created to help women receive the most appropriate, individualised treatment for their perimenopause and menopause, it has quickly become a centre of excellence, providing care to women of all ages, as well as running educational events for primary care clinicians.

Dr Newson is also the founder of the Menopause Doctor website, a free resource since 2017, providing the latest unbiased, evidence based information about the menopause and perimenopause for women as well as the most recent national and international menopause articles and guidelines for healthcare professionals. The website has been adopted by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) as an official educational library aimed at patients and healthcare professionals wishing to learn more about the menopause.

Newson Health Research and Education is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Dr Newson, from which all profits gained from the organisation's activities, such as event sponsorship, delegate fees and speaker's fees, are invested back into the business.