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Study Indicates An Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer In Women Undertaking Estrogen and Testosterone Therapy

veloping breast cancer than those who had never used hormone therapy; this was higher than the increased risk associated with current estrogen use (15 percent) and current use of estrogen plus progestin (58 percent). When the researchers considered only women who had gone through menopause naturally rather those whose menopause began when they had a hysterectomy, those who took estrogen plus testosterone (17 women) had 2.5 times the risk of breast cancer than those who had never used hormones.

Enzymes in the breast tissue may convert testosterone to estradiol, an estrogen-like hormone that may contribute to the development of breast cancer, the authors write. Previous studies have indicated that women who use estrogen plus testosterone therapy have higher levels of estradiol and testosterone circulating in their bodies than women who take estrogen alone. Higher levels of testosterone alone have also been linked to increased breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

The number of women in the study who used estrogen plus testosterone therapy increased dramatically over time, from 33 in 1988 to 550 in 1998. This reflects a broader trend that makes the results especially important, the authors write. "Given the substantial evidence implicating combined estrogen plus progestin therapy in breast cancer and the results of the present study regarding estrogen plus testosterone therapy, women and their physicians should reconsider use and, more specifically, long-term use of these therapies," they conclude. "Although postmenopausal therapies may provide improvement with respect to sexual functioning, general well-being and bone health, the increased risk of breast cancer may outweigh these benefits." (Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1483-1489. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Source: EurekAlert
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