LINK BETWEEN HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY AND BREAST CANCER INCREASE

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LINK BETWEEN HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY AND BREAST CANCER INCREASE

Link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer increase

Current use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might increase the risk of breast cancer detected between routine mammographic screens.

That's the conclusion voiced recently by Dr. Valerie Beral and colleagues in a letter published in the correspondence section of the British medical journal, The Lancet.

An earlier report in Lancet showed an increase in interval cancers of the breast -- those which develop between mammographic screens -- and that the rise was higher in women aged 50-59 years than in those aged 60-64. The breast cancers arose in women who had a previous negative result. In the United Kingdom, screening is undertaken every three years in women over 50, so these cancers had developed in the three years between mammographic examinations.

Because the rate of interval cancers was higher in the younger age group studied in this report, Beral and co-workers suggested that the increase is due to HRT use -- women aged 50-59 being more likely to be under such treatment than women in the older age group.

The authors pointed to the only study that has looked at interval cancers in relation to HRT use. That investigation suggested that the use of HRT reduced the chances of cancer being detected by mammography, probably because this treatment increases the mammographic density of the breast -- as natural estrogen (hormone produced by the ovaries) does in younger women.

More and more women are using HRT, and how much this hormone treatment contributes to the high rate of interval cancers seen in the Uk breast screening program needs to be established, according to Beral and coauthors.

"The available evidence is to uncertain to guide policy", say the doctors, but they suggested that "women stop using hormone replacement therapy for a short period before being screened."

SOURCES: Is the increase in breast cancer between mammographic screens due to hormone replacement therapy? (Correspondence), by Dr. Valerie Beral. The Lancet, April 12, 1997

Hormone replacement therapy and high incidence of breast cancer between mammographic screens," The Lancet Feb. 15, 1997.
The Chiropractic Journal.

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