Hormone Replacement Therapy Increases Risk of Breast Cancer in Post Menopause Women

By Samantha S. | Updated: Aug 02, 2016


Review on January 05, 2010


Hormone replacement therapy is commonly used by women going through postmenopause. In the United States alone, 25 million prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy have been written in recent years for the symptoms that plague women suffering through postmenopause. However, many women fear using hormone replacement therapy during postmenopause because of concerns of breast cancer. For women using the hormone replacement therapy of estrogen combined with progestin, the Women's Health Initiative study reported an increase in tumors and other breast tissue abnormalities on their mammograms. However, other studies on hormone replacement therapy during postmenopause have brought about mixed results.

The Women's Health Initiaitve trial consisted of roughly 17,000 women going through postmenopause. The postmenopause women were between the ages of 50 and 69, with an average age of 63 years. These women were studied for their hormone replacement therapy use between the years of 1993 and 1998. Only healthy women were considered for this trial: women with a history of breast cancers, and other types of cancers, or with serious medical conditions were excluded for the trial.

Postmenopause mammography

The postmenopause women were randomly divided into two groups: one received hormone replacement therapy while the other served as a control. The postmenopause women received annual mammograms for five and a half years. Reciever operating operating characteristic analyses were used to analyze and compare results between postmenopause women receiving hormone replacement therapy and women not receiving hormone replacement therapy. The trial was double-blind so neither patients nor staff knew which postmenopause women were taking hormone replacement therapy. Participants were strongly advised to continue with their yearly mammograms after the study was completed.

In conclusion, postmenopause women taking the hormone replacement therapy of estrogen combined with progresten increased the likehood of a mammogram with abnormalities such as cancers and other breast tissue abnormalities. In contrast, postmenopause women who did not take hormone replacement therapy were much less likely to suffer these abnormalities. Many of these abnormalities were at a more advanced stage than is usually detected. Discontinuation of use of hormone replacement therapy after twelve months greatly discreased the risks of finding breast tissue abnormalities in a mammogram. Women considering using hormone replacement therapy to aid with the symptoms of postmenopause should keep these facts in mind when considering whether or not hormone replacement therapy is right for them.

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