Three’s a charm…breast cancer, lung cancer deaths and ovarian cancer

Posted by on Jul 17, 2009 in HRT, ovarian cancer | 0 comments

More news on the hormone therapy horizon. Not only has HRT  been shown to increase breast cancer risk and death from lung cancer, but now researchers are reporting that it also increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Wow – three’s a charm, eh? And yet, many in the medical community continues to support its use in perimenopausal and menopausal women.

In this latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers evaluate data from 909,946 Danish women between the ages of 50 and 79 who had not previously developed hormone sensitive cancer or had had hysterectomies.

Compared to women who never took hormones, current hormonal therapy users had 1.38 greater incidence of all types of ovarian cancers and and 1.44 greater incidence of cancer affecting the surface of the ovaries (i.e. epithelial ovarian cancers) regardless of type of hormone therapy, administration or duration of use. Notably, risk declined with years since stopping hormone therapy.

Ovarian cancer accounts for about 4% of all cancers in women in the US. Yet, it is one of the most lethal types and often symptomless in the early stages. Roughly half of the women it affects die within five years. In this study, hormone therapy increased the risk for developing ovarian cancer by 38%.

Like any, this study had limitations that might have affected the results, such as not adjusting for age during menopause, or use of birth control pills (which have been shown to reduce ovarian cancer risk). Still, it is one of the largest studies to date examining this issue and the results do not fare well for use of hormones during menopause.

If I seem a bit angry about this; I am. Repeatedly, data show that hormone replacement, albeit an effective solution for declining hormones and their effects, is dangerous. I wonder how many women need to get sick or die before someone takes notice and removes hormones from the market.

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