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Estrogen Supplements May Raise Odds of Benign Breast Disease
Date:4/8/2008

Women on the hormone more than doubled the risk for this precancerous condition

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Women who took a common form of estrogen as hormone replacement therapy during menopause more than doubled their risk for certain types of benign breast disease compared with women who took a placebo, researchers say.

One such condition -- benign proliferative breast disease -- is relatively common and has been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer.

The clinical implication for women contemplating the use of supplemental estrogen "doesn't really change," said study author Dr. Tom Rohan, chairman of the department of epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

"It's the idea that women need to balance the benefits and risks," he said. This new finding does point to an added risk, however, Rohan added.

His team published the study online April 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Until now, there have been no randomized studies on the effect of conjugated equine estrogen (CEE), a type of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), on the risk of developing benign proliferative breast disease. Randomized trials are considered the gold standard of science.

The current data comes from the Women's Health Initiative CEE trial, in which almost 11,000 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to receive CEE or a placebo.

Women taking CEE had more than double the risk of developing benign proliferative breast disease over an average follow-up of almost seven years, the team found.

It is thought that invasive breast cancer can result from a succession of conditions, with benign proliferative breast disease without atypia (cell abnormalities) sometimes being followed by proliferative disease with atypia before the development of in situ (localized) cancer.

This study did not
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