Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Increases Cancer Risk

Women who take hormone replacement therapy are at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer and dying from the disease, say scientists. Researchers at Oxford University concluded that 1,000 British women may have died from ovarian cancer since 1991 because they took the drug to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of menopause and prevent brittle bone disease. The new findings emerged from the Million Women Study, the largest examination of HRT and cancer, which questioned almost 950,000 women aged 50 to 64. Previous results from the same study showed that using combined HRT doubled a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer compared with not taking HRT. In the latest paper, published in The Lancet, scientists at Cancer Research UK’s Epidemiology Unit in Oxford found that the rate of ovarian cancer among those who took HRT was 2.6 per 1,000 women over five years. For women who did not take the drug, the incidence dropped to 2.2 per 1,000 over the same period. This meant that over a five-year period there was likely to be one additional case of ovarian cancer among 2,500 women receiving HRT, the team said. For every 3,300 women on HRT there was also likely to be one additional death from the disease. It thus has, since 1991, been responsible for some 1,300 additional ovarian cancers and 1,000 additional deaths. [20Apr07, Telegraph] The researchers said that a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer returned to a normal level within a few years of stopping HRT. Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK with almost 7,000 new cases every year. The five-year...