The Estrogen Elixir: A History of Hormone Replacement Therapy in America

Watkins, Elizabeth Siegel

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010
ISBN 10: 0801894867 / ISBN 13: 9780801894862
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In the first complete history of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Elizabeth Siegel Watkins illuminates the complex and changing relationship between the medical treatment of menopause and cultural conceptions of aging.

Describing the development, spread, and shifting role of HRT in America from the early twentieth century to the present, Watkins explores how the interplay between science and society shaped the dissemination and reception of HRT and how the medicalization―and subsequent efforts toward the demedicalization―of menopause and aging affected the role of estrogen as a medical therapy. Telling the story from multiple perspectives―physicians, pharmaceutical manufacturers, government regulators, feminist health activists, and the media, as well as women as patients and consumers―she reveals the striking parallels between estrogen’s history as a medical therapy and broad shifts in the role of medicine in an aging society.

Today, information about HRT is almost always accompanied by a laundry list of health risks. While physicians and pharmaceutical companies have striven to develop the safest possible treatment for the symptoms of menopause and aging, many specialists question whether HRT should be prescribed at all. Drawing from a wide range of scholarly research, archival records, and interviews, The Estrogen Elixir provides valuable historical context for one of the most pressing debates in contemporary medicine.

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The Estrogen Elixir tells the story of the rises and falls of hormone replacement therapy and its promise to women to prolong youthfulness and forestall the diseases of aging. In 1992, after several decades on the market, estrogen became the most prescribed drug in America, but it lost popularity ten years later when the Women's Health Initiative reported that it increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and breast cancer. Estrogen continues to be used by midlife and older women, although not without controversy. As the first complete history of HRT, The Estrogen Elixir is essential reading for one of contemporary medicine's most pressing debates.

"Much has been written about post-menopausal estrogen therapy... This wonderful book tells the story."― New England Journal of Medicine

"This book takes an in-depth, socially analytical look at the evolution of menopausal hormone therapy in the United States, with a focus on estrogen since its discovery... Watkins tells the story accurately and objectively."― JAMA

"A significant work on the social history of American medicine and a major contribution to the growing literature on hormonal therapeutics and research."― Isis

"Sets a high standard for future histories of pharmaceuticals and of aging."― Journal of American History

"Watkins provides a fascinating, multi-faceted study of HRT, leaving no voices out of the debate."― History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

"A good read."― Journal of Clinical Investigation

Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is a professor in the History of Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950–1970, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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Title: The Estrogen Elixir: A History of Hormone ...
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date: 2010
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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