The well-established risk of breast
cancer associated with a history of benign breast disease is 2 to 4 times
greater with proliferative rather than nonproliferative histology,
researchers at Harvard Medical School report.
Reassuringly, findings from the same study also suggest that the risk in
women with a history of proliferative benign breast disease is not further
increased with use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.
Dr. Celia Byrne and colleagues in Boston conducted a nested case-control
study of 133 postmenopausal breast cancer cases and 610 controls, all of whom
had a history of benign breast disease and were enrolled in the Nurses'
The investigators say in the November 15th issue of Cancer that, compared
with women with a nonproliferative benign histology, the relative risk of
developing breast cancer was 1.8 in women with a history of proliferative
breast disease without atypical hyperplasia, and 3.6 in those with atypical
These risks were unaffected by the use, or nonuse, of postmenopausal hormone
replacement therapy, according to the report. Nonetheless, Dr. Byrne and
colleagues stress that they "cannot exclude the possibility of an association
between particular hormone combinations, dosages, and increased risk."
Dr. Byrne concludes in a related statement: "Menopausal women who consider
the use of female hormone replacement therapy must continue to weigh the
benefits of symptom relief against the potential for increased risks of
breast and endometrial carcinomas."
Thanks to Reuters Health
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