Study shows no HRT cancer risk

Pharmaceutical Representative

A retrospective study of 5,761 postmenopausal women nationwide sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control showed no increased risk of breast cancer associated with the use of hormone replacement therapy.

Between 15% to 25% of postmenopausal women utilize hormone replacement therapy – most commonly in pill or patch form – to alleviate symptoms ranging from hot flashes and hot flushes to sleep disturbances. The long-term health benefits for women taking HRT can also be beneficial. "[HRT] prevents bone loss and fracture and it probably prevents heart disease," said Trudy Bush, an epidemiologist with the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. "The data on colon cancer also looks very interesting and suggests that hormone therapy might reduce the risk of colon cancer. The data on dementia and Alzheimer's disease in users is also very impressive, so hormone replacement therapy is a very important therapeutic option for midlife and older women."

The results of the study generally confirm what was previously presumed about HRT. "There's one study that keeps publishing itself over and over and over again, which shows an increase in risk, but the vast majority of studies don't show anything," said Bush. "Based on everything I've seen, it doesn't look like there is any increased risk. This is a therapy that's been used for 50 years."

Though the study's authors claim that "if there is any increased risk of breast cancer associated with HRT use, the risk is small," Bush said that the statement came more from an inability to definitively prove a lack of risk than from any risk itself. "Nobody wants to come out and say there is no increase in risk. How do you prove a negative?" asked Bush. PR