Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Menopause Treatment a Cancer Risk?

Study Shows Estrogen Plus Testosterone May Up Risk of Breast Cancer
Font Size
A
A
A

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 cancermay 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 including Estrogen.

"The bottom line is that women must discuss their own risks and benefits with their doctor."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW