NewsFlash: Canadian Cancer Society Recommends Against HRT Use Except as Last Resort

Posted by on Oct 1, 2010 in breast cancer, HRT | 2 comments

Researchers and representatives comprising the Canadian Cancer Society are recommending that women avoid taking hormone replacement therapy or HRT for any reason other than relief of severe menopausal symptoms that have not responded to other treatments. Wow! Talk about a newsflash!

The reason for last week’s statement is a new study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that demonstrates an almost 10% decline in the rate of breast cancer among Canadian women between the ages of 50 and 69 following a drop in HRT use.

Utilizing data on HRT prescriptions, incidence of breast cancer, mammography and HRT use in 1,200 women between the ages of 50 and 69, considered primary users of HRT, to a 9.6% decline in the incidence of breast cancer between the years 2002 and 2004. Comparatively, rates during the period of time just before the time studied, i.e. 1998 and 2001, had declined by less than 1%. Incidentally, the more than 50% drop in use of HRT during this time period directly followed reports from the Women’s Health Initiative Study showing a increased risk of stroke, heart attack and breast cancer among users of HRT. Moreover, researchers found that the decline in breast cancer cases were not the result of fewer women getting mammograms; in fact, mammography rates remained stable during this time period.

The researchers say that their results, which are the first in Canada to examine the potential link between widespread declines in HRT use and breast cancer among postmenopausal women, support the Society’s goal of providing Canadian women with information about how to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. Although the study findings may possibly be limited by the fact that the rely on self-reports of use of HRT and do not take into consieration how often and for how long HRT was used,  the researchers claim that the results provide meaningful information on factors that influence breast cancer. Now, they need to determine if HRT promotes or causes breast cancer.

When I asked for a statement from lead study investigator Dr. Prithwish De, he said: “The Canadian Cancer Society’s ongoing review of the evidence on HRT and breast cancer since 2003 led us to our current position and the research study findings reaffirm this position. The Society recommends that women avoid taking HRT for any reason other than to relieve severe menopausal symptoms that have not responded to other treatment. We understand that each woman’s experience with menopause is unique. If, after consulting with their healthcare professional, a woman decides to take HRT, it should be the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible.”

October is breast cancer awareness month. Educate yourselves and those around you.


  1. 10-1-2010

    Great post, GREAT news.

    It’s so encouraging to see such decisive (and fast) action on the part of the Canadian Cancer Society.

    I’m definitely spreading the word!

    Thanks so much,

    • 10-1-2010

      I agree. It’s the first time anyone has had the balls to be so decisive!


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