Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Hormone therapy increases risk of breast cancer by a third, study warns

Risk of breast cancer increased by hormone therapy, study finds HRT for menopause increases breast cancer risk
Anna Jefferson | 01 September, 2019, 21:26

Co-author Professor Valerie Beral from the University of Oxford claimed while many may believe the MHT is appropriate to help them through menopause, women need to be wary of the risks associated with use.

Certain hormone replacement therapies have always been tied to an increased risk of breast cancer.

"MHT does offer real benefits for menopausal symptoms, but its use beyond one year seems to confer a steadily increasing risk of breast cancer with increasing years of use".

He said: "The menopause can be a very hard time for women, and HRT can help many to control its unpleasant and distressing symptoms, and drastically improve their quality of life".

Experts urged women to be cautious when interpreting the findings, saying numerous hormone treatments used by the women in the studies were no longer commonly prescribed.

As a result, some women experience period pain, severe hot flushes, and discomfort that can be alleviated by MHT.

Scientists reanalyzed all eligible examinations from 1992-2018 that had recorded MHT use and after that observed breast cancer incidence, with 108,647 women subsequently creating breast cancer at an average age of 65 years.

Risk increased the longer women use MHT, with a doubling in the risk of breast cancer for women using oestrogen-progestagen for five to 14 years.

Now, new research suggests that in some cases, that risk can persist for more than a decade.

"Since the Women's Health Initiative [study] identified in 2002 that women who took hormone replacement therapy were at an increased risk for the development of breast cancer, we have seen a marked decline in their use", noted Dr. Lauren Cassell, a breast surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. However, for short use of MHT of under a year, there was little risk at all of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.

The study also showed women who received menopausal hormone therapy continued to have an elevated risk for about a decade after stopping the therapies.

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The decision "transformed" her life and Mrs Ellis says she will continue taking HRT despite the new evidence showing a raised cancer risk.

Almost 20,000 Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and more than 3000 will die from the disease, according to Australian Government estimates.

"For 18 years now I have been trying to convince women that they don't want to start postmenopausal estrogens, and I've been encouraging women who have hot flashes to try to resolve those hot flashes through other medical means", Brawley stated.

The new research showed just an association between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer - not a causal relationship.

"I was working in a pharmacy, so I was aware of the risks".

Existing NHS guidelines, last updated in 2015, encourage doctors to prescribe HRT and say twice as many women could benefit as now do. She was not involved in the research.

'Some of the diseases that can be prevented by HRT carry a greater risk for women of dying than breast cancer.

"These findings should not put women off taking HRT if the benefits - such as protection of bones and decrease in cardiovascular risk - outweigh the risks", she said.

All types of MHT except topical vaginal oestrogens were linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. "Nevertheless, it is important that clinical guidelines are evidence-based, and that this study is taken into account as clinical guidelines are updated and developed", he stated.

Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, urged women not to panic at the findings and to continue taking the therapy as it has been prescribed to them.

The MHRA suggested that prescribers discuss the latest findings with women using HRT at their next routine appointment.

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