Breast cancer risk in hormone replacement therapy linked to type and length of treatment, study says

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel and her patient, Blanca Tovar Verma, weighed the risks of breast cancer associated with hormone replacement therapy against the impact of Tovar Verma’s severe menopause symptoms. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

(Nicole Ireland/ CBC) — New findings published in the Lancet medical journal provide more certainty than ever that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

The risk is higher than previously thought — and persists years after women stop taking the treatment — says Gillian Reeves, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor with the cancer epidemiology unit at the University of Oxford.

“Our role here is to provide really credible evidence about the risks associated with menopausal hormone use,” Reeves told CBC News.

“So that … women together with health professionals can actually make a much more informed decision about whether or not they really want to take it.”

Although Canadian doctors are applauding the comprehensive nature of the findings, they emphasize that women suffering from debilitating symptoms of menopause — hot flashes, lack of sleep, mood swings and others — need to weigh their cancer risk against the potential benefits of HRT. (…)

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