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HRT does not raise risk of breast cancer: study

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A recent British study has found no link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer.

In an analysis of the health records of millions of British women in their fifties and sixties, researchers at the University of Bristol have found no correlation between the controversial HRT treatment and breast cancer, the UK's Daily Mail reported.

A link between breast cancer and HRT was first reported by the Women's Health Initiative in the US in 2002.

The US study found women receiving HRT treatment had a 29 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer and at an increased risk of other health concerns such as heart disease, blood clots and stroke.

Following this scare, hundreds of thousands of women abandoned the treatment, halving the number of women seeking HRT by 2005.

However, Women's Health Initiative researchers did not focus their study on women in their fifties — the common age for HRT users.

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The University of Bristol research has found the health risks may apply only to older women, who've already gone through the menopause and who are not typical HRT users, the UK's Daily Mail reported.

The researchers wanted to learn if the rates of breast cancer had dropped since women had largely abandoned the treatment in 2002.

While they predicted a sharp drop in UK's breast cancer rates, they found none at all, suggesting that HRT is not a risk factor, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Public Health last month.

The study, similar to the Women's Health Initiative, does suggest that HRT does increase the risk of blood clots, though researchers aren't certain the treatment is to blame.

The researchers suggest that the exercise should be repeated over a longer timeframe to detect cancers that take a long time to develop before giving hormone replacement therapy the green light.

HRT therapy is a combination of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone used to treat the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings.

The treatment can be administered in different forms such as tablets, implants, gels and patches. Long-term benefits of the treatment may include the decreased risk of developing osteoporosis.

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