Estrogen not associated with lung cancer incidence and mortality among postmenopausal women

August 13, 2010

Use of estrogen alone did not increase lung cancer mortality in postmenopausal women, according to a study published online August 13 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial, which consisted of several clinical trials on postmenopausal women, one study showed women with previous hysterectomy taking combined plus progestin therapy had a statistically significant increase in lung cancer mortality, but not incidence. Other studies with combined hormone therapy have had conflicting results. But the influence of estrogen alone was unclear.

To determine whether use of estrogen alone was associated with lung cancer incidence and increased lung cancer mortality, Rowan T. Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and colleagues, in a post-hoc analysis examined data from a previous randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the WHI. This trial was conducted in 40 centers in the U.S., in which 10,739 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years with a hysterectomy were randomly assigned to groups receiving estrogen alone or placebo.

The researchers found there was only one more death from lung cancer in the estrogen group (34 deaths) compared with the placebo group (33 deaths). Their conclusion was that use of estrogen alone was not associated with lung cancer incidence or death from in women with hysterectomies.

The researchers also found that although the effects of combined estrogen and progestin and estrogen alone on coronary heart disease were similar, there were differences in the two therapies' effect on various types of cancer. Combined therapy showed a statistically significant increase of incidence, whereas estrogen alone showed a reduced incidence. However, combined therapy showed a statistically significant reduction in colorectal cancer, whereas estrogen alone was not associated with colorectal cancer.

The authors say that a limitation of the study was the small sample size and that further investigation comparing combined therapy to estrogen alone is needed. However, they write, "These findings should be reassuring for women with previous hysterectomy, who use estrogen alone for climacteric symptom management."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Combination immunotherapy targets cancer resistance

November 22, 2017
Cancer immunotherapy drugs have had notable but limited success because in many cases, tumors develop resistance to treatment. But researchers at Yale and Stanford have identified an experimental antibody that overcomes this ...

Researchers discover specific tumor environment that triggers cells to metastasize

November 21, 2017
A team of bioengineers and bioinformaticians at the University of California San Diego have discovered how the environment surrounding a tumor can trigger metastatic behavior in cancer cells. Specifically, when tumor cells ...

New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young

November 21, 2017
After years of rigorous research, a team of scientists has identified the genetic engine that drives a rare form of liver cancer. The findings offer prime targets for drugs to treat the usually lethal disease, fibrolamellar ...

Clinical trial suggests new cell therapy for relapsed leukemia patients

November 20, 2017
A significant proportion of children and young adults with treatment-resistant B-cell leukemia who participated in a small study achieved remission with the help of a new form of gene therapy, according to researchers at ...

Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose cancer drugs

November 20, 2017
Doctors have many drugs available to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. However, there is no way to predict, by genetic markers or other means, how a patient will respond to a particular drug. This can lead to ...

Researchers discover a new target for 'triple-negative' breast cancer

November 20, 2017
So-called "triple-negative" breast cancer is a particularly aggressive and difficult-to-treat form. It accounts for only about 10 percent of breast cancer cases, but is responsible for about 25 percent of breast cancer fatalities.

0 comments

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.