Hormone therapy raises breast cancer risk
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may ease menopause symptoms, but new research suggests that it might also increase the risk of breast cancer. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women who use a combination of estrogen and progestin to ease some of the more unpleasant symptoms of menopause are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not use the hormones.
While not the first study to look at HRT’s possible link to breast cancer, this research analyzed information gathered from 41,000 postmenopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age over an 11-year period. Half of the women took HRT at some point during the study and the other half never used HRT. Of the 2,200 cases of breast cancer diagnosed during the study period, women on HRT accounted for 0.6 percent of breast cancer cases each year. Women who did not use HRT accounted for only 0.42 percent of cases each year.
The good news is that the women’s chance of survival after a breast cancer diagnosis was the same, regardless of whether they used HRT or not.
But the findings add to a growing body of research that hormones – especially estrogen and progestin – contribute to a women’s overall risk of developing breast cancer at some point in her life.