HRT Raises Risk of Breast Cancer Death
Combined Hormone Replacement Therapy May Be more Deadly for Some
WebMD News Archive
"Since our results show a substantially greater increase in
breast cancer with combined HRT, women need to weigh the increased risk of
breast cancer caused by the addition of progestin against the lowered risk of
uterine cancer," says Beral. "Comparing the risks is by no means
simple, and women may well want to discuss options with their doctor."
In an editorial the accompanies the study, Chris van Wheel and
colleagues from the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands, say these findings are
in line with two recent studies published in The Journal of the American
Medical Association that found a higher risk of advanced or invasive breast
cancers in combination HRT users.
"The problem is in those women who are already, often for a
long time, taking HRT -- estimated at between 20% and 50% of all women 45-70
years of age in the western population," they write. "This group should
discontinue HRT use as soon as possible.
"Discontinuing HRT should be suggested in as supportive a
way as possible, because no one will benefit from panic or over-reaction:
general practitioners need to use the opportunities arising from their regular
contacts with patients taking HRT to discuss treatment-related risks, to give
advice about stopping, and to offer alternative support."
Sorting Out the Risks and Benefits of HRT
To help women make sense of the confusion surrounding HRT,
WebMD consulted an expert, JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, director of the Mid-life
Health Center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and chairwoman
of the professional education committee of the North American Menopause
Q. Who should be concerned about these and other recent
studies on hormone replacement therapy?
A. I think there are two main groups of women who are most
concerned with HRT issues.
First, there are the women with significant menopausal
symptoms, such as hot flashes, and are considering going on HRT.
The second group of women are those who have been on HRT for a
long time, have read the recent information on HRT, decided to transition off
HRT, and now have not fared well in terms of having significant menopausal