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Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT Safer For Short Term - Significant Breast Cancer Risk in Long Term Users - 20 Years

May 9th 2006

Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT Safer For Short Term - Significant Breast Cancer Risk in Long Term Users - 20 Years


An article in this issue of Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that the long-term use of oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does increase the risk of breast cancer. The authors say that “short-term unopposed estrogen use does not seem to increase breast cancer risk”.

The researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study.  They observed 11,508 postmenopausal women who had a hysterectomy and reported information on estrogen use at baseline (1980).  The study population expanded every two years until a total of 28,835 women were included in the final follow-up period between the years 2000 and 2002.

The women were assessed using self-reported data on biennial questionnaires.  The results seem to conflict with a Stanford University study just last month that found no evidence of any increased risk in women who used the therapy for up to seven years.  But does it conflict?


The new study found that women taking oestrogen for less than 10 years did not appear to have a higher risk than those who had never taken hormones.   Those taking the hormone for over 20 years had a “significantly” higher risk for breast cancer.

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals issued a press release that points out that there was no increase in invasive breast cancer risk among postmenopausal hysterectomized women who used estrogen alone therapy for less than 10 years.  They added “there was a nonsignificant increase in breast cancer risk among women who used estrogen therapy for 10 to 19.9 years, and a significant increase in breast cancer risk among women who used estrogen therapy for 20 or more years. Few women in the NHS study population used doses lower than 0.625 mg of estrogen.”


A Wyeth spokesperson, said “Hormone therapy is a valuable treatment for millions of symptomatic postmenopausal women. It should be prescribed at the lowest effective dose and for the appropriate duration necessary for a woman to achieve her treatment goals, with consideration given to her individual risk profile.”  Wyeth is a maker of estrogen and other women’s health care products.

An ABC News report said that this is good news for women who want to use estrogen for a short time to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.  It was believed that HRT was effective in helping postmenopausal women postpone age-related ills.  The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study showed that estrogen-progestin supplements increased the risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM