One day after Pfizer wins the latest lawsuit regarding HRT in Arkansas, a new study published in the October 20, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found a link between prolonged use of HRT and the risk of not only developing breast cancer but of dying from the disease.
This new study began with data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a randomized-controlled study of post-menopausal women that abruptly ended in 2002, when a definitive increase in the incidence of breast cancer was discovered in women taking the combined HRT of estrogen-plus-progestin. Since the end of that study, researchers continued to follow the participants and found that women taking the combined HRT were more likely to have an invasive breast cancer, more likely to have breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes, and more likely to die from breast cancer than participants in the placebo group.
Estrogen-plus-progestin pills like Prempro increase breast density making tumors difficult to identify on mammograms which delays the diagnosis and inevitably the treatment for the disease. The researchers conclude that women taking HRT should use the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
The Today Show’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman discusses the study’s conclusions on the Today website with a warning to women of menopausal age to consider the risks of HRT and to discuss with their physicians the possibility of taking the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.
It is important to note that the study findings only apply to hormone replacement therapy with estrogen-plus-progestin pills or combined hormone therapy, not to estrogen-only therapy.
Contributing Author: Rachel A. Leyko