HRT increases breast cancer risk

HRT can raise risk of breast cancer new study shows

Continued HRT use increases the risk of breast cancer, a new study has found.

However, the research, published in New England Journal of Medicine, found that when women stopped using combined HRT (hormone replacement therapy), their breast cancer risk fell sharply.

Since the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study suggested a breast cancer link, there has been a fall in use of the combined form of HRT by around 50% in Britain. It remains, however, the most commonly-prescribed HRT in the UK with more than one million women taking it.

The team from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said that their findings would end debate over the link.

Dr Marcia Stefanik, from Stanford University, said: ‘This is very strong evidence that oestrogen plus progestin causes breast cancer. ‘You start women on hormones and within five years their risk of breast cancer is clearly elevated. You stop the hormones and within one year their risk is essentially back to normal.’

Oxford University cancer researcher Professor Valerie Beral stressed the ‘good news’. She said: ‘In the UK, where there has been a 50% fall in the number of women taking HRT, this means 1,000 fewer women with breast cancer every year.

‘The advice is now clear – if you suffer from severe menopausal symptoms, you can take HRT for the shortest possible period.’


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