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Million Women Study

December 2002

A recent article in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG Dec.2002, Vol.109, 1319-1330) has described patterns of use of HRT in one million women in Britain, 1996-2000.

The million women study is a population-based multi-centre prospective study based in the UK, aiming to investigate the effects of HRT on health. Between 1996 and 2000, a total of 1,091,250 women were recruited to the study while attending the NHS Breast Screening Programme. Questionnaires were completed, giving information on lifestyle and socio-demographic factors, reproductive factors, past health and use of HRT.

This report has shown that 33% of women reported current use of HRT and the average duration of use is 5.8 years. 50% of women had used HRT at some time. Current use of HRT is twice as common at age 50-54 than at age 60-64 but varied little for each year of the study or for regions. Current HRT use was influenced by past history, being used most in women who had had bilateral oophorectomy (66%). HRT was currently used by 48% who had had hysterectomy without bilateral oophorectomy, 27% with neither hysterectomy nor bilateral oophorectomy, 6% with history of breast cancer, 25% history of other cancer, 24% stroke, 24% venous thromboembolism, 25% diabetes, 31% heart disease, and 31% hypertension. Only little variation was noted in the use of HRT according to deprivation index, education, number of previous pregnancies, body mass index, exercise, smoking or alcohol consumption.

The study concludes that HRT use appears to be influenced more strongly by a woman's medical or surgical history than by socio-economic or lifestyle factors, and is currently used by about one third of women in Britain.


It is known that HRT use increased greatly in the early 1990s. This report provides very interesting figures regarding current use of HRT, which does not appear to have changed significantly from 1996 to 2000, and about factors influencing use of HRT, which seem to differ from the widely held view that lifestyle and socio-economic factors were of utmost importance.
For more information on this study, visit

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