Hormone Replacement Therapy appears to pose a greater risk of breast cancer than previously thought. This conclusion comes from the Women’s Health initiative, a large, government-funded study that was stopped prematurely in July of 2002 because HRT was linked to a higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes as well as an increased risk for both ovarian and breast cancer. At first physicians believed that women who took estrogen plus progesterone developed less aggressive, easier-to-treat forms of breast cancer. But a new analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association contradicts that belief. Researchers have followed women for 11 years.
Those who took Prempro had more aggressive tumors and were twice as likely to die from breast cancer as those taking placebo. Although physicians are advised to prescribe the lowest dose of combined hormones for the shortest possible time, there are no studies to indicate what dose or duration would be safe.
[JAMA, Oct. 20, 2010]