stopped taking hormone replacement therapy after I read
it could increase my risk of breast cancer. Will my risk
return to normal now?
A recent study has shown that breast cancer risk
begins to return to normal about six months after a
woman stops taking a combination of the hormones
estrogen and progestin. The study, part of the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development Women's
Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences Study, also
confirmed that daily combined hormone therapy increases
the risk of breast cancer.
The study involved more than 3,800 white and
African-American women. About half the women had
developed breast cancer and half did not. Both groups
were questioned about their hormone use.
The researchers found that the women who took
combined hormone therapy daily were one-and-a-half times
more likely to develop breast cancer than the women who
were not on the therapy. The risk increased with the
length of time the women took the hormones. However, six
months after the women stopped the therapy, their risk
of breast cancer began to return to normal. This was
true regardless of how long the women had been taking
the hormone replacement.
The risks and benefits of combined hormone therapy
were first studied by the National Institutes of
Health's Women Health Initiative (WHI). Last July, WHI
researchers stopped the study when it became clear that
the risks of breast cancer and heart disease from
combined hormone therapy outweighed the possible
Before these findings, combined hormone therapy was
prescribed widely for menopause symptoms, such as hot
flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.
Women considering hormone therapy should talk with
their doctor about the possible risks and benefits
before making a decision. For more information about
hormone use and cancer, call the Cancer Information
Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Source: "Ask the CIS" by the Cancer Information
Service. "Ask the CIS" is distributed by the Cancer
Information Service (CIS) of the Heartland, which
serves Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri & Illinois. The
CIS is a program of the National Cancer Institute.
Call the CIS toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER
(1-800-422-6237) between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. local
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Last update: Tuesday, November 25, 2008