Study shows hormonal therapy increases risk of breast cancer

Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, MD, PhD, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute lead researcher and author of a study released March 29 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, issued the following statement regarding the latest findings from the Women's Health Initiative, the largest-ever study of hormonal therapy in post-menopausal women.

The study Dr. Chlebowski authored reported that estrogen plus progestin use is linked with increased breast cancer incidence. In addition, it said the prognosis is similar for both users and nonusers of combined hormone therapy, suggesting that mortality from breast cancer may be higher for hormone therapy users as well.

"This study shows that women who begin the hormonal therapy of estrogen plus progestin closer to menopause are at greater risk of breast cancer than those who started the therapy earlier. Because menopause usually is the reason for women to undergo hormonal therapy, this is a very significant finding.

"The study also showed that all categories of breast cancer are increased - not just those with favorable prognosis - among women using estrogen plus progestin. This finding suggests higher mortality from breast cancer among women who use this combined hormonal therapy. As always, women should consult with their physicians and consider the potential risks of any hormonal therapy to help relieve the symptoms of menopause."

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