In July 2002, the Women's Heath Initiative (WHI) of the National Institutes of Health announced an abrupt end to its study of so-called Hormone "Replacement Therapy" (used to treat symptoms associated with menopause) because the treatment posed risks of cancer and heart disease. Since this was previously considered the gold standard of menopause science, almost 11 million American women -- 46 percent of users -- stopped taking the treatment and sales plummeted. (In France, some gynecologists still prescribing hormones make patients sign waivers of responsibility.) In December 2006, a new survey from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer had dropped dramatically between August 2002 and December 2003.
Marriage is undeniably a changed institution, because wedlock is no longer obligatory on the old patriarchal terms. For women this has been a hard-won, historic victory. Divorce became easier starting with the first wave of feminism in the early 1900s, and the second wave, beginning in the 1960s, obtained for women more kinds of work, better salaries, new legal rights, heightened self-esteem, and the acceptability of sexuality outside of marriage.