SEATTLE (AP) - Use of a hormone-replacement therapy with estrogen and
progestin can more than double the risk of a form of breast cancer,
researchers reported today in the journal Cancer.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center studied 537
King County women at least 50 years old who had breast cancer from 1988
to 1990. They were compared with 492 women who had not had the disease.
Scientists found a 2.6-fold higher incidence of lobular breast cancer in
women who took the combination therapy for at least six months and an
average of four years.
The reason only one form of cancer increased is "a question for the
future: Do some women have certain characteristics that make them more
susceptible to lobular cancer when using replacement therapy?" said Dr.
Christopher Li, the study's lead author.
About 85 percent of invasive breast cancer cases are in the ducts that
carry milk to the nipple. Lobular cancer occurs in the milk-producing
lobules and affects about 10 percent of breast-cancer cases.
About 8.6 million women in the United States take the combination
therapy treatment and 12 million take estrogen alone.
The hormones reduce the risk of broken bones from osteoporosis and ease
menopausal symptoms. In women who have not had a hysterectomy, progestin is
used to lower the risk of endometrial cancer.
Earlier studies, including two this year, indicated a heightened risk of
breast cancer among women using combination hormone therapy for at least
five years but not among those using estrogen alone.
In a related study, Li found a 35 percent increase in lobular cancer
between 1988 and 1995.
"Although preliminary, our studies suggest that the incidence of lobular
breast cancer is increasing nationwide and that the use of
postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, specifically the use of
combined estrogen plus progestin preparations, may be contributing to
this increase," Li said.
He said more studies were required to confirm the findings.
Thanks to: The Associated Press.
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