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Hormone replacement therapy boosts breast cancer risk, study confirms

Hormone replacement therapy based on either estrogen-alone or estrogen-plus progestin, which is commonly prescribed to women to ease menopause symptoms, increases risk of breast cancer, particularly hormone-receptor positive malignancies, a new study confirmed.

The study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention also showed that hormone replacement therapy raised higher risk of breast cancer in women with a healthy body mass index than those with a BMI over 30.

Tanmai Saxena from the University of Southern California and colleagues followed almost 3,000 women who received hormone replacement therapy for about 10 years from 1995 through 2006.

The researchers found the longer a woman used either estrogen-alone therapy or estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, the higher the risk of breast cancer.  Higher risk was found in women who continuously used the treatment than those who took breaks during some period of therapy.

Specifically, using estrogen therapy for 15 years or longer boosted the risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. This is compared to 83 percent increase in the risk of the disease for using combined therapy for the same time-frame.

Women who used combined therapy continuously faced highest risk.

Previous studies found women who used HRT had high risk of breast cancer and the elevated risk remained even after they discontinued taking estrogen supplements.

Doctors may pursue women to take hormone therapy saying that the estrogen is natural. In fact, hormones are dangerous, particularly endogenous or naturally identical hormones, which are much more powerful than those environmental mimics, according to a Mongolian scientist who made the comment while she visited Harvard University.

Early studies also found hormone replacement therapy increased not only breast cancer risk but risk of heart disease as well.

A health observer suggests that women should try natural remedies before they want to try HRT.  Weight loss, acupuncture, black cohosh, emotional freedom technique or EFT and flaxseed may potentially help ease menopause symptoms like hot flashes.

y Jimmy Downs