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HRT found to increase risk of breast cancer

by Kelly MacNeil on October 20, 2010

Recent findings were published Tuesday revealing a strong link between hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women and increased risks of breast cancer, reports ABC News.

In this week’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who use post-menopausal HRT have twice the risk of contracting and dying from aggressive breast cancer than those who pass up the treatment.

HRT, a combination of estrogen and progestin, is marketed in several forms that include tablets, implants, skin gels and patches.

The researchers examined patient charts of more than 16,600 women aged 50 – 79.

The study found that women taking combined HRT were 25 percent more likely to have invasive breast cancer, 78 percent more likely to have a cancer that had spread to their lymph nodes and were almost twice as likely as the placebo group – which did not take HRT – to die of breast cancer, according to Business Week.

A similar, companion study of estrogen alone used in HRT did not show similar results.

In 1970s scientists linked estrogen replacement therapy Premarin to risk of endometrial cancer. To remedy the drug, manufacturers Wyeth, added another artificial hormone in order to reduce the uterine cancer risk.

In 2002 researchers reported an increased incidence of breast cancer in women taking HRT which led to a drop in HRT use. However, tens of millions of prescriptions per year were still being handed out, according to BusinessWeek.

A woman in Little Rock, Arkansas, who took HRT for 4.5 years attempted to sue drug makers Wyeth Pharmaceuticals after she developed breast cancer, reports ABC News. The Federal jury sided with Wyeth yesterday, which had argued it adequately warned doctors and patients of the risks associated.

Thousands of similar cases involving HRT are currently pending across the nation.

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