New England Journal of Medicine study confirms HRT breast cancer link
New study findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 5, 2009, supports the theory that the decline in U.S. breast cancer rates is largely related to a decrease in combined hormone therapy use among postmenopausal women and was unrelated to changes in frequency of mammography. The study indicated that women on hormones can quickly reduce their risks of cancer simply by stopping the therapy. Data also found that postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen plus progestin for at least five years are nearly doubling their risk of developing breast cancer. This latest study is a follow up to the landmark Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study in 2002. After the WHI study was published, there was a dramatic drop in HRT use in the United States – from 60 million prescriptions in 2001 to 20 million in 2005. This was followed by a drop in rates of breast cancer detection, but the decrease remained controversial since some scientists argued that the drop in cancer rates was instead related to patterns of mammography use.