Hormonal Replacement Therapy Found to Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer, Says Study

As per a new study published in Lancet, women who have used Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) also known as menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) to treat menopause systems may face an increased risk of breast cancer, estimated to be 6.3 per cent to 8.3%. the risk persists even 10 years after they stop the therapy.

The risk is even greater with combined oestrogen-progestogen therapy than oestrogen-only therapy. The study also reveals that usage spanning less than 5 years is also inflicted with the risk of cancer.

“Prior to this, a lot of doctors had a rule of thumb that up to five years of use was safe for breast cancer. “For women using combined oestrogen-progestogen MHT for five years starting at age 50, around one in 60 will develop breast cancer because of the therapy,” said Emily Banks, co-author and professor of epidemiology at Australian National University.

The study states, that women using MHT for less than a year, are at minimum risk of cancer, inferring that MHT should only be used to treat moderate to severe symptoms and not minor ones. But experts say it’s important for women to evaluate the dangers of MHT in the context of other breast cancer risk factors, including their age, weight, alcohol use and family history.

An estimated 12 million women use MHT in Western countries, over 300,000 of which are in Australia. Gels and skin patches containing menopausal hormones are in more use in Australia than hormone pills. This is not potentially a direct threat as a breast cancer risk as opposed to other MHT, like pills.