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Less HRT, Fewer Cases of Possible Breast Cancer Precursor
Date:11/12/2009

As hormone use declined, so did incidence of abnormal cells in milk ducts, study finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Declining use of hormone replacement therapy may be driving down rates of a condition called "atypical ductal hyperplasia," a known risk factor for breast cancer, new research suggests.

This is the first time a link has been found between atypical ductal hyperplasia -- abnormal cells in the breast's milk ducts -- and hormone therapy, said Diana Miglioretti, senior author of a paper published in the November issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

"It sounds like another reason not to take hormones," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge.

"This is part of a pattern that combined use of hormone therapy with both estrogen and progesterone does something to a woman's breast that predisposes them to atypical ductal hyperplasia, which is felt to be a precursor to certain types of malignancies," Brooks added.

If atypical ductal hyperplasia does turn out to be a precursor to breast cancer, this link would be a good indicator of how use of hormone therapy -- often used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes -- can help spur malignancy.

The findings are in keeping with other recent research showing a decline in breast cancer rates since the release of results from the Women's Health Initiative, a major trial that caused many women to stop taking combined (estrogen plus progesterone) hormone therapy.

The Women's Health Initiative was halted in July of 2002 after researchers found higher risks of heart attacks and breast cancer in women taking the hormone supplements compared with placebo.

Since that time, use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has experienced a precipitous decline.

According to experts, women diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia have a t
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