November 1997

Media Contacts: Sarah Goodwin, 404/727-3366 -
Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371 -

Some 2,700 Atlanta area women have joined the 124,000 nationwide participating in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) -- the largest study of women's health ever undertaken.

While the study will continue until 2005, the window during which women may volunteer to participate is about to close. Emory University researchers are seeking to recruit many more women ages 60-79 before the recruitment phase to the clinical trial ends January 31, 1998.

"We'd like to encourage older women to join the study, not only to learn more about their own health, but to help answer critical, unresolved questions about preventing and treating heart disease, breast and colon cancer and bone fractures," says Sally McNagny, M.D., principal investigator of the Emory component of WHI and assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. "WHI volunteers are helping to shape how chronic illnesses may be prevented and treated in their daughters and granddaughters."

Specifically, the researchers are measuring the effects of low fat diets and hormone replacement therapy on heart disease and cancer, and calcium and vitamin D supplementation on prevention of osteoporosis.

Qualified clinical trial participants may choose to become involved in the dietary modification trial, hormone replacement therapy trial, or both. The number of times women will visit Emory's WHI Research Center varies depending on the portion of the clinical trial into which they are randomized.

Women who either do not qualify or meet the recruitment deadline for the clinical trial may still be asked to be part of a separate observational portion of the study. Participants in the observational study will simply be asked to visit the Emory study site located in downtown Decatur for one visit then will complete mailed questionnaires each year until 2005.

According to the 1995 WHI "Be Part of the Answer" Fact Sheet:

  • WHI is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study that focuses research on the causes and treatments of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis--chronic diseases that are the major causes of death, disability and frailty in women of all races and socioeconomic strata.

  • "The WHI will attempt to redress many of the inequities in women's health research and provide practical information to women and their physicians about hormone replacement therapy, dietary patterns and calcium/vitamin D supplements."

  • "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States; approximately 90 percent of all heart disease deaths among women occur after menopause."

  • "Studies have shown that heart disease in women often goes undetected and untreated until the disease has become severe. As a result, 39 percent of women who have heart attacks die within one year compared to 31 percent of men."

  • "One in eight women can now expect to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. In 1960, this ratio was one in 20 women. The death rate from breast cancer increased 24 percent between 1979 and 1986."

  • "In 1990, of the seven million women over age 75, nearly two million were either unable or limited in their ability to carry out major life activities. Although not a major cause of mortality in older women, osteoporotic fractures account for much disability in older women."

    Emory's WHI Research Center is located at 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite 320, Decatur. All clinic visits and study medications will be provided at no cost. For information, contact Vivian Porter at 770/473-8600 or 1-800-549-6636.

    For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, call Health Sciences Communication's Office at 404-727-5686, or send e-mail to

    Copyright ©Emory University, 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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