More than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and some 40,000 die. So it was great news when researchers reported that the incidence of all types of breast cancer fell a 7 percent in 2003, the latest year for which statistics are available, from the year before. This was the first decline after increases for several decades.Researchers say the most likely explanation for the sharp decrease is is that millions of women have abandoned or sharply decreased their use of hormone therapy, which had been hyped by the pharmaceutical industry as the best way to treat menopause symptons and push back the encroachment of old age.
It became obvious that there was a dark side to the therapy: Prolonged use of the most popular hormone combinations caused an increase in breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes and, counter to cure-all claims, did not prevent Alzheimer's, depresession or urinary incontinence.
This is but a small victory. The incidence of breast cancer remains high and more research needs to be done, as well as the development of more effective -- and honestly marketed -- medications and therapies.
* * * * *Meanwhile, it appears that mega-drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling schizophrenia medication.