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Risk of Breast Cancer Overestimated with Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT) Treatment

5th August, 2005. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is commonly advocated in menopausal woman. However taking this hormone treatment could be associated with increased chances of breast cancer and recently anxiety has been expressed.

In a study published in British Medical Journal// the cumulative risk of such a cancer developing in woman on HRT is low and not as high as was previously reported.

A team from New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute looked at the current data and estimated risk of breast cancer up to age 79 years in relation to hormone replacement therapy. This calculation is called the cumulative absolute risk.

The study found that the risk was higher when both estrogen and progesterone was used but very low when estrogen alone was used for five years.

"Although we found the additional breast cancer risk with hormone replacement therapy for an individual is very small, the effect on the general incidence of breast cancer would be greater, especially in populations with high levels of use," said Professor John Boyages, the Director of the Institute.

The conclusion drawn was: "The reasons for taking hormone replacement therapy vary and decisions about its use must be made at an individual level. Our analysis provides women and clinicians with better information to make these choices,".

Further Information on Menopause and HRT from Medindia

How can Menopause be treated?

Natural menopause requires no treatment. Sometimes ovaries are removed in young women due to a surgical reason and this kind of menopause is called surgical menopause. Surgical menopause that occurs prior to natural menopause may require estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Not all postmenopausal women need to be treated with ERT. Estrogen replacement therapy is also a popular treatment especially in developed countries for women to avoid the natural body changes which are equated to 'getting old'. ERT can help to reduce the undesirable symptoms of menopause such as vaginal drying and preventing osteoporosis after menopause.

Side effects of estrogen replacement therapy are:

Vaginal bleeding.
Breast tenderness.
Abdominal bloating.
Uterine cramps.

To reduce these risks of estrogen replacement therapy doctors may suggest:

1. Adding progesterone to the estrogen.
2. Adding testosterone to the estrogen

For more information read:


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