TUESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Another analysis of data on hormone therapy use among U.S. women finds that the panorama of risks is even more complex than previously thought: Thinner women taking it showed a higher risk of developing breast cancer than heavier women.
The California researchers also found that the longer a woman used either estrogen-alone therapy or estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, the higher the risk of disease. Similar results were seen for women who used combined therapy continuously rather than taking breaks during the month.
"This gives us a clear correlation between the length of treatment and risk," said Dr. Freya Schnabel, director of breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Ad hoc, people had made the assumption that, for the most part, shorter was better, but this definitely gives you some parameters on that."
Given that current recommendations on the use of HRT to relieve menopausal symptoms are to use as little as possible for as short a time as possible, Schnabel said, "this supports that and gives a framework for that."
The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Previous analyses have verified that taking combined estrogen-plus-progestin ups breast cancer risk. In fact, a dramatic tapering off in HRT use after the results of the landmark Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study were published in 2002 has coincided with a decline in the number of invasive breast cancers doctors are seeing.
"There's no question that [the release of information from the WHI] was a cataclysmic moment for HRT in the U.S.," Schnabel said. "A lot fewer women are using it, and what we've seen as a result is that breast cancer rates have gone down, and epidemiologists seem pretty comfortable that it was because of that."
Since those original results,
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