Women should still be concerned about hormone replacement therapy, researchers say

McMaster University researchers have found consistent evidence that use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is associated with breast cancer globally. This study comes at a time when more women are again asking for this medication to control hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

The rising trend is at odds with a U.S. Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study of 2002 which found a higher incidence of breast cancer, and stroke among women using HRT. Those findings led to a in HRT use – and a subsequent reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in many countries. However, HRT is now being offered to women in smaller doses and for a shorter period of time.

In their study, the McMaster researchers found "convincing evidence" for a direct association between decreased HRT use after the WHI study and the declining incidence of breast cancer. Their research appears in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"The evidence is compelling that HRT use increases the risk of breast cancer, and its cessation reduces this risk," the researchers said.

Dr. Kevin Zbuk, assistant professor of oncology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster and lead author on the study says: "In our study we examined all studies that have reported breast cancer and rates of HRT use after the WHI study. There is very clear evidence that the countries with the highest HRT rates had the largest decrease in incidence when HRT use started to decline.

"Given the potential harms associated with HRT use, physicians and patients alike should be reminded of the lessons learned from the WHI trial. If HRT is needed, it should be used for the shortest time and at the lowest dose necessary to relieve symptoms."

Related Stories

Estrogen alone is effective for reducing breast cancer risk

date Dec 09, 2010

While endogenous estrogen (i.e., estrogen produced by ovaries and by other tissues) does have a well-known carcinogenic impact, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) utilizing estrogen alone (the exogenous estrogen) provides ...

Recommended for you

Experts set strategic priorities for lymphoma research

date 5 hours ago

A committee of lymphoma experts today unveiled a strategic roadmap identifying key priority areas in both infrastructure and research that will be critical for advancing treatments for people with lymphoma. The report is meant to inform future research directions as well as fund ...

Research aims to reduce health care disparities

date 5 hours ago

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer/questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) population has been largely understudied by the medical community. Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center found that the LGBTQI community ...

Promising drug target identified in medulloblastoma

date 6 hours ago

Scientists at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center have identified a protein critical to both the normal development of the brain and, in many cases, the development of medulloblastoma, a fast-growing ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
Dec 21, 2011
HRT consists of patented estrogen analogs that the drug companies use to make money in spite of health and environmental concerns. The real question is; does bio-identical HRT have any serious negative side effects?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.