Menopause Treatment a Cancer Risk?
Study Shows Estrogen Plus Testosterone May Up Risk of Breast Cancer
WebMD News Archive
Risks vs. Benefits
So what's a woman to do?
"Given the substantial evidence implicating combined estrogen plus
progestin therapy in breast cancerand
the results of the present study regarding estrogen plus testosterone therapy,
women and their physicians should reconsider use and, more specifically,
long-term use of these therapies," the researchers conclude. "Although
postmenopausal therapies may provide improvement with respect to sexual
functioning, general well-being, and bone health, the increased risk of breast
outweigh these benefits."
When it comes to treating the symptoms of menopause, "'safe' is a relative term,"
says Donnica Moore, MD, a women's health expert based in Far Hills, N.J.
"There is no product -- prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) -- that
works that is absolutely free of side effects. And there are also risks, per
se, of not treating symptoms," Moore says. "There is no
one-size-fits-all answer for all women. Each woman with menopausal symptoms or
concerns should speak with her doctor, who is in the best position to help her
decide what's best for her given her unique circumstances, her symptoms, her
risks, and her medical history."
The use of testosterone as part of a hormone replacement therapy may
continue to increase, Moore predicts. "This is in large part due to
increased awareness of the benefits of testosterone for women with decreased
libido," she tells WebMD.
"Women should not take any OTC or pharmaceutically created testosterone
that isn't prescribed by their doctor -- and your doctor knows your specific
risks," says Lila E. Nachtigall, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and
director of the Women's Wellness program at New York University School of
Medicine in New York City. Nachtigall is also the author of several books
"The bottom line is that women must discuss their own risks and benefits
with their doctor."