Hormone replacement therapy is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, scientists have warned.
A major review of worldwide evidence found almost all forms of the treatment were linked to the raised risk. And it revealed for the first time the risk stays higher for more than 10 years after use.
The study said women who use HRT to relieve symptoms of the menopause could increase their risk of breast cancer by twice as much as previously thought.
Around one million women use HRT in the UK. More than half use oestrogen and daily progestogen.
The link was strongest for this combination. Users who started five years of treatment, aged 50, were 33% more likely to develop breast cancer within 20 years than women who had never used HRT.
Use of oestrogen and intermittent progestogen for five years was associated with a 22% higher risk, while oestrogen-only HRT resulted in an 8% increase.
Prof Valerie Beral of Oxford University, said: “Previous estimates of risks associated with use of menopausal hormone therapy are approximately doubled by the inclusion of the persistent risk after use of the hormones ceases.”
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Dr Miriam Stoppared says ….
Another red alert on HRT and again, it’s about increased breast cancer risk.
What makes this latest study, in the Lancet, different from all the others?
Well, first it’s very big – an international study on more than 100,000 women who developed breast cancer.
It found 51% had taken HRT, putting the risks at about twice what we thought.
The other big finding is the risk after stopping HRT persists for up to 10 years.
For the first time it differentiates between different forms of HRT, with oestrogen vaginal cream no risk at all. Oestrogen-only HRT is the lowest. HRT containing oestrogen AND progestogen is higher, with continuous progestogen having a greater risk than intermittent.
HRT causes 1,400 cancers a year in the UK, less than 1% of cases, but the longer you take HRT, the higher your risk.
What if you’re thinking of HRT? Ask your GP and consider oestrogen vaginal cream. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you can take oestrogen-only HRT, but think hard about HRT containing progestogen.