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​​​​​​​​​​​Welcome to the Women's Health Initiative

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) is a long-term national health study focused on strategies for preventing heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women.  Launched in 1993, the WHI enrolled 161,808 women aged 50-79 into one or more randomized Clinical Trials (CT), testing the health effects of hormone therapy (HT),  dietary modification (DM), and/or calcium and Vitamin D supplementation (CaD) or to an Observational Study (OS).  At the end of the initial study period in 2005, WHI Extension Studies (2005-2010, 2010-2020) continued follow-up of all women who consented.  

This ground-breaking study changed the way health care providers  prevent and treat some of the major diseases impacting postmenopausal women.  Results from the WHI Hormone Trials have been estimated to have already saved $35.2 billion in direct medical costs in the US alone.  To date, WHI has published  over 1,400 articles and approved and funded 289 ancillary studies

Interested scientists are encouraged to submit paper and ancillary study proposals for  using WHI data.  To assist in this, this website includes an overview of WHI, study documentation, and information on how to submit a paper or ancillary study proposal.


​WHI News

Featured PublicationPinkal Desai headshot photo

Artificially sweetened beverages and stroke, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative

Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Kamensky V, Manson JE, Silver B, Rapp SR, Haring B, Beresford SAA, Snetselaar L, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Stroke. 2019 Mar;50(3):555-562. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.118.023100.

Previous research indicates associations between high consumption of artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. We investigated these associations by separating out stroke, its sub-types and also examined associations with coronary heart disease and death from all causes in 81,714 Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study participants. When comparing participants with high intake of ASB (defined as having two or more 12 fl oz. cans of diet drinks or more per day) to participants having no or less than once per week of diet drinks, there was an increased risk of stroke, particularly the clot-caused or ischemic stroke sub-type: small artery occlusion. There was also an increased risk of coronary heart disease and death from all causes. Although we need more research in this area, these findings add to the potentially harmful association of consuming high amounts of ASB with these health outcomes.

Please note: when these data were collected some of the newer NCS options were unavailable, including Stevia, a plant-based product as opposed to the synthetically created products like saccharine, aspartame or similar. We do not know whether there is a difference in outcomes but suggest caution until more data become available.

View past news stories

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