A large study has found a drop in breast cancer cases after a reduction in the use of certain types of hormone replacement therapy.
HRT is sometimes prescribed to women battling symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and psychological problems, but scientists at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center now believe that it may expose patients to a higher risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
In particular they flag up combination therapy which uses both estrogen and progestin in one pill as causing an elevated level of risk if used for more than two years, based on their analysis of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s randomized clinical trial.
"A woman who continues combined hormone therapy [for] about five years would double her personal annual risk of breast cancer," Dr Marcia Stefanick, a professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and a co-author of the analysis, was quoted as saying by healthday.com.
The risk decreased rapidly when the women stopped taking the pills.
In 2002, the NHLBI stopped the trial of estrogen plus progestin therapy when researchers noticed a rise in breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism cases.