Does Hormone Replacement Therapy increase Breast Cancer Risk?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 31, 2012

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Hormone replacement therapy is a recommended treatment by doctors who suggest this in order to relieve the patient from common symptoms of menopause.  


There are two types of hormone replacement therapy; combination HRT which contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone and estrogen-only HRT which contains only estrogen.The two of them have two different effects on the risk of breast cancer. [Read: Causes of Breast Cancer in Young Women]


Let us take a look at the both kind of therapies.


Combination HRT – The risk in combination HRT is that the cancer is usually detected at a later stage, also increasing the risk that a woman who is diagnosed with it have chances of dying from it. The risk of breast cancer is very high during the first two or three years of taking HRT combination. Breast cancers in these women are found to be more likely to have spread to the lymph nodes by the time they get diagnosed. The breast cancer count in this group of women increased with the length of time that they took the hormones and decreased after they stopped taking the hormones  


Estrogen only HRT – The risk of getting diagnosed with breast cancer increase if a woman is taking estrogen only HRT for 10 years or more. This type of HRT also increases the risk of ovarian cancer. [Read: Risk Factors of Ovarian Cancer]


Due to the potential risk that you can see, there are many other alternatives being suggested including lifestyle changes and phytoestrogens. There are many studies and researches on this, resulting in a number of theories and facts. For instance, a recent study revealed that breast cancer risks apply to women who take progesterone analogues and not to women who are taking progesterone itself. Breast cancer risks also doesn’t have a standing chance inhysterectomized women who take unopposed estrogen. It has been found that the death rate of women who took estrogen plus progestin was 2.6 per 10,000 women per year, whereas it was 1.3 per 10,000 women per year for women who took placebo. [Read: Common Risk Factors for Breast Cancer]


It is important to make some lifestyle changes in order to keep breast cancer at bay. One must maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, avoid smoking and limit the intake of alcohol.


Read more on Breast Cancer Causes and Risks



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