Post-menopausal women should think twice before going in for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because it is tied to breast cancer globally, reveals a study.
The study by McMaster University researchers, that found consistent evidence that use of HRT is linked to breast cancer globally, comes at a time when more women are asking for this medication to control hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
The rising trend is at odds with a US Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study of 2002 which found a higher incidence of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke among women using HRT, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reported.
Those findings led to a rapid decline in HRT use and a subsequent reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in many countries. However, HRT is now being offered to women in smaller doses and for a shorter period of time, according to a university statement.
McMaster researchers found convincing evidence for a direct association between decreased HRT use after the WHI study and the declining incidence of breast cancer.
“In our study we examined all studies that have reported breast cancer and rates of HRT use after the WHI study,” said Kevin Zbuk, assistant professor of oncology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster, who led the study.
There is very clear evidence that the countries with the highest HRT rates had the largest decrease in breast cancer incidence when HRT use started to decline.
“Given the potential harms associated with HRT use, physicians and patients alike should be reminded of the lessons learned from the WHI trial. If HRT is needed, it should be used for the shortest time and at the lowest dose necessary to relieve symptoms,” concluded Zbuk.