More women are choosing not to take hormone replacement therapy after recent research showed that using estrogen and progesterone after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer. Now, there’s even more reason to say no to hormones. According to a new study, women who take hormone replacement therapy after menopause have a greater risk of advanced breast cancer and a higher risk of dying of the disease.
Estrogen and Breast Cancer Risk: New Reasons Not to Take Hormone Replacement Therapy
In this study, researchers followed almost 13,000 women for eleven years. They found that more women who took estrogen and progesterone after menopause developed breast cancer than those who took the hormone-free route – but that wasn’t the only finding. Of the women who developed breast cancer, more of them died of the disease. (25 vs. 12 deaths in the placebo group). So, not only does hormone replacement increase the risk of breast cancer, it also makes it more likely that a woman won’t survive it.
This research flies in the face of previous studies showing that breast cancers that occur in women taking estrogen and progesterone have a more favorable prognosis. On the other hand, this data makes more sense since estrogen fuels the growth of estrogen receptor positive breast tumors.
One reason women who take hormone replacement therapy are more likely to die of breast cancer is because it makes it harder to detect a breast tumor at an early stage – when it’s most curable. Hormones make mammograms denser, which makes it more challenging to pick up small cancers.
Should You Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Unfortunately, most studies show that not only does estrogen and progesterone boost breast cancer risk; it makes it harder to diagnose breast tumors at an early stage. If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, avoid hormone replacement therapy at all costs. If you’re not at high risk, use only the lowest dose for as short a time as possible. Even better? Use natural ways to relieve hot flashes – like ground flaxseed.
The bottom line? Hormone replacement therapy has too many risks and not enough benefits.
Eureakalert.org. “Hormone therapy use by postmenopausal women may increase incidence of more advanced breast cancer”