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Video: Hormone Replacement Therapy Linked To Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer
Hormone replacement therapy linked to increased risk of breast cancer
Long-term, continuous use of hormone replacement therapy during menopause increases the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a meta-analysis of all studies on this topic. Before taking hormonal drugs, it is worth weighing all the risks and benefits.
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Certain types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have long been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. In some cases, this risk can persist for more than ten years. This is the conclusion reached by the authors of a new study published in The Lancet.
All types of HRT, with the exception of vaginal estrogens, are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The risks increase steadily as the duration of HRT use increases. This is more true of the combination of estrogens and progestogens than estrogens alone.
The transition to menopause usually begins between the ages of 45–55, causing certain symptoms (hot flashes, increased night sweats, pain during sex, and vaginal dryness) to appear due to changes in the body's production of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Women sometimes use HRT to relieve these symptoms.
The researchers analyzed 58 previously published studies on HRT, which included over 100,000 postmenopausal women with invasive breast cancer. The participants lived in Western European countries. The authors of the work found that daily combination therapy of estrogen-progestogen drugs for five years, given to women of average weight from the age of 50, is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer up to 70 years.
In particular, the incidence of breast cancer at the age of 50–69 years was recorded in 6.3% of women who had never used HRT, and in 8.3% among those who took drugs daily. This equates to about one additional cancer in every 50 people taking the drugs.
Estrogen use and intermittent progestogen hormone therapy are associated with an increased risk from 6.3% to 7.7%. This is one additional case for every 70 women who used the drug. With estrogen-only therapy, from 6.3% to 6.8% (one additional case for every 200 women taking the drugs).
Even with discontinuation of treatment, some excess risk persists for more than 10 years, the researchers noted.
However, the study only showed a link between HRT and breast cancer. More research is needed to determine whether HRT has actually led to an increased incidence of breast cancer.
The FDA does not recommend HRT for vaginal bleeding, a history of certain cancers, blood clots, stroke or heart attack, bleeding disorders, liver disease, or allergic reactions to hormonal drugs. Women who have problems using HRT are advised to consult with a doctor about further actions. The new study aims to help both women and their doctors decide whether to start treatment and which HRT medications to take.
“Women need to be informed of some increased risk of breast cancer in order to adequately assess the possible benefits of HRT. The results of the study should not discourage women from taking HRT if benefits such as bone protection and reduced cardiovascular risk outweigh. In addition, women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer if they are overweight or obese compared to taking HRT. We urge patients not to panic,”explained Janice Rymer, gynecologist and vice president of the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was not involved in the study.
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