Every breath you take…lung cancer and HRT

Posted by on Mar 12, 2010 in HRT, lung cancer | 3 comments

Remember last year’s post on hormone replacement therapy and increased risk of deaths from lung cancer? Researchers now report that HRT that combines estrogen and progestin can increase the risk for developing lung cancer, especially when used for long time periods.

In the latest nail in the HRT coffin, researchers evaluated 36,588 peri- and postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 76 over six years. During the study, 344 women developed lung cancer. Overall, the findings showed that the longer women took HRT, the higher their risk for developing lung cancer, with use of 10 years or more associated by as much as a 50% increased risk. Note that while an increased risk for developing lung cancer was also seen in women used HRT for up to 9 years, it was about half as much, or 27%.

While the researchers are quick to point out that this study does not prove that HRT causes lung cancer, it does show that taking HRT for certain periods of time can significantly increase the risk for lung cancer, even when other important factors are removed from the equation. Similar increased risk has not been observed in women taking estrogen alone.

In the latest position statement on hormone replacement therapy from the North American Menopause Association, a panel of experts currently conclude that the evidence shows that both smoking and age played an important role in promoting growth of existing lung cancers in women taking HRT, in particular among older women. On the other hand, they say that other studies suggest that HRT theoretically lends some protection against lung cancer in younger women.

Clearly these data are at odds. However, as a wonderful report in Reuters points out, the latest study ‘sheds light on the question’ because it looks at HRT use over a longer period of time.

Every breath you take…could eventually be your last. It all depends on your decision about HRT. Is the short-term gain worth the long-term risk? Only you and your doctor can evaluate your individual risk and determine if HRT is the right choice.


  1. 7-5-2010

    I would like to read more soon. BTW, rather nice design this blog has, but don’t you think it should be changed every few months?

    Olivia William

  2. 7-17-2010

    thanks for being such a valuable resource
    – avid – mesothelioma resource

    • 7-21-2010

      Thank you! Really appreciate that!


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