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Cancer risk slightly higher for women in discontinued hormone treatment trial
Date:3/4/2008

A follow up study of participants in the Womens Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial led by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher has found that women who were taking the combined hormone therapy of estrogen plus progestin may have an increased risk of cancer since the intervention was stopped, compared to participants in the trials placebo group.

However, the increased risks of heart disease, stroke and blood clots which had been seen in women taking the therapy as part of the WHI trial have diminished in the three years since researchers stopped it, according to a study published in the March 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The studys lead author is Dr. Gerardo Heiss, a Kenan professor of epidemiology in the UNC School of Public Health.

The WHI trial of estrogen plus progestin which included 16,608 healthy postmenopausal women was originally designed to study what effect the hormone treatment would have on cardiovascular disease, cancer risks and bone fractures.

The trial was stopped in July 2002 after participants had been on the therapy for an average of 5.6 years because researchers saw an increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease in women randomly assigned to hormone therapy, compared with those who received a placebo.

Since then, Heiss and other WHI researchers at collaborating institutions have examined the risks and benefits experienced by 15,730 trial participants who had follow-up visits from July 2002 to March 2005, after they stopped hormone therapy.

Researchers have found that the yearly event rates for the outcome all cancer was higher for the estrogen plus progestin group (1.56 percent per year [n = 281]) than the placebo group (1.26 percent per year [n = 218]). This reflects a greater risk of invasive breast cancer and other cancers in the estrogen plus progestin group. Although the risk of breast cancer remained elevate
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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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