One new study says long term hormone
replacement isn't as safe as once thought, then another study says it's
ok. Both were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The first and larger study, from Brigham
and Women's Hospital, Boston, indicates that hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) involving a combination of estrogen and progestin for more than
five years significantly increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.
The second study from the University of
Washington at Seattle compare 500 women, ages 50-64, who had newly
diagnosed breast cancer with a control group of similar but healthy
women. This study found no link between breast cancer and hormone use.
Here, in fact, women who has used hormones for eight years or more
seemed to have less risk of breast cancer than women who had never taken
Estrogen has significant benefits for
postmenopausal women in lowering risks of heart disease and
osteoporosis, along with easing discomfort of menopause and keeping the
body more youthful. But estrogen only therapy is associated with a
greater risk of breast cancer. The combination of progestin and estrogen
for therapy was hoped to be a safer treatment than estrogen only
The Boston study puts the cutoff point
at five years of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), after which breast
cancer risk increases significantly. Many women may use the therapy
longer, especially if they go through menopause early.
Research continue, of course.
Meanwhile, postmenopausal women and their doctors need to weight the
benefits against the possible risks.
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