HRT 'can cut breast cancer chances' for women at higher risk of developing disease
New research suggests that giving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer could help protect them from the disease.
Doctors had previously believed that prescribing the treatment to women who are genetically prone to breast cancer heightened the risk.
However, the latest research conducted at the Univerity of Toronto suggests HRT could drastically reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
The two gene mutations which can radically increase the change of getting breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2 and some women who carry the genes choose to have mastectomies simply as a precaution.
It has been previously been thought that HRT is dangerous for these women as the treatment contains the hormone oestrogen which can stimulate growth in cancer tumours.
However the latest study of 500 women shows that those who carried the BRCA1 gene who took HRT were 42% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not.
Research leader Dr Steven Narod said further trials were required to confirm the study results.
Almost 80,000 women in the UK are believed to carry the BRCA1 gene, but many are unaware of it.
Professor Amos Pines, past president of the International Menopause Society (IMS), commented on the findings: ‘The results of this study show that HRT in a higher risk population is not necessarily associated with more cases of breast cancer during the first years of hormone use.’
He added: ‘These results concur with data on hormone use in women with a family history of breast cancer, supporting the IMS view that HRT in the early postmenopausal period is safe and may be prescribed without concerns when needed.’