Ladies, listen up. The latest study out of UCLA confirms that using hormone therapy has inherent risks for increasing the odds of getting breast cancer. Even women who use estrogen and progestin pills for as little as a couple of years, had a greater chance of getting breast cancer. The big number is "5" which means that if you don't stop using hormone after 5 years, your risk for getting breast cancer doubles. Now there are very prominent celebrities, associating with guru doctors out there, suggesting that to not take hormones means sufferring, and aging, and painful intercourse and just a dismal, dismal future. Clearly they are wrong and the results of this study need to really resonate with you.
As far as any indications for use of hormone therapy - there is no doubt that if you are struggling with unrelenting, multiple daily hot flashes - you need to make an "informed decision" about the risk versus the benefit of hormone use. And let's be clear - taking hormones does not ease everyone's hot flashes. But it does seem to be the #1 therapy to help most menopausal women with serious hot flashes. And again, you can take them for a short time, stop and see if your hot flashes have decreased and kind of "play a bit" with short term therapy.
For minor or infrequent hot flashes and sweats, vaginal dryness and even libido issues as well as protecting your heart health and bone density, I believe this study's results should encourage you to seek other treatments and answers. This study's results really confirms a new policy of no use or short term use of hormones only. This study , which took a closer look at the Women's Health Initiative confirms original observations that "risk (for breast cancer) rose with the start of use (of hormone therapy), peaked when the study ended and fell as nearly all hormone users stopped taking their pills. At the peak (of the study looking at hormone use), the breast cancer risk for pill takers was twice that of the others." Once you stop, whatever risk you had, starts to diminish as well.
One cannot argue with statistics and the statistics clearly show that after the initial results of the Women's Health Initiative were publicized, there was a dramatic decrease in breast cancer cases and it is assumed that this was in direct correlation to many women stopping hormone therapy (or not choosing it as an option) and doctors not offerring it quite as frequently anymore. Some suspected it was due to decreased numbers of mammograms which would mean a "lower rate of detection" - but in fact, this new UCLA study evaluation shows a direct correlation between lower rates of use of hormones and reduction of breast cancer cases after the fact.
Let's be clear that long term use of hormones - and some women are being given the OK to use hormones long term - correlate with a 100% increase in breast cancer risk. Also remember that every doctor is not current or up-to-date on research so you need to ask questions and speak up. A new study is currently looking at women in the Initiative who only used estrogen (without progestin).
Published On: December 16, 2008