Is There a Relationship Between Breast Cancer and HRT?
Are you confused about hormones and breast cancer? While the relationship
between estrogen and breast cancer is not crystal clear, doctors generally agree
that estrogen does not cause breast cancer, although it may cause
an existing cancer to grow.
What do we know about hormones and breast cancer? First, we
know that breast cancer increases with age. 8 out of 10 breast cancers are
in women over 50, whether or not they take estrogen. Another risk factor is
a woman's lifelong exposure to her own hormones; the longer she produces her
own estrogen, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. Women are at
lower risk for breast cancer if they got their periods late, have not become
overweight, or go through menopause early.
Over the last 25 years, more than 50 studies have evaluated hormone therapy
and breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, these studies
varied widely in design and have inconsistent results. The most encouraging
data come from an outcomes study: menopausal women who took estrogen and got
breast cancer lived an average of 2 years longer than menopausal women who did
not take estrogen replacement and did not get breast cancer. For more information,
Created: 10/8/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.