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Estrogen-Only Therapy May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Date:3/7/2012

d related menopausal symptoms," Anderson said. These benefits need to be weighed against a woman's risk of stroke or developing blood clots.

Dr. Lila Nachtigall, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, agreed that, when used on its own, estrogen can still be safe and effective in treating the symptoms of menopause in women who do not have a uterus.

"It looks very definite that the bad guy is progestin, not estrogen," Nachtigall said. Her advice is to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time. If more women took estrogen, she said, there would be a dent made in the epidemic of osteoporosis. "Millions of women who never went on estrogen, even for a few years, are really losing bone," she said.

That said, estrogen does increase the risk of blood clots. "Women with blood-clotting disorders should not take it," Nachtigall said.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "If you are looking to reduce menopausal symptoms and don't have an intact uterus, [estrogen] is an option." But estrogen-only therapy should not be prescribed indiscriminately, she added.

"This applies only to women who have severe menopausal symptoms. We are not saying that we should give women estrogen to reduce the risk of breast cancer," Bernik added.

More information

Learn more about the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy through the North American Menopause Society.

SOURCES: Lila Nachtigall, M.D., professor, obstetrics and gynecology, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Garnet Anderson, Ph.D., principal investigator, Women's Health Initiative Clinical Coordinating Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle; Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, Lenox Hi
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