HRT Use Linked to Increased Risk of Lung Cancer Death
In a new abstract study published in May of 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, preliminary research revealed that women diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer following use of combination hormone replacement therapy had a 59% increased risk of death. Findings were based upon the landmark Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study of over 16,000 women were randomly divided into a two groups - one group taking a placebo and another group taking an estrogen and a progestin in combination.
Rowan Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, one of the authors of the study, said researchers noticed a significant increase in both fatal and non-fatal malignancies among the women taking the hormones. Researchers then looked at the effect of the hormones on lung cancer and found that for non-small cell lung cancer, analysis showed:
- A significant increase in the risk of dying if a woman taking the hormones developed cancer.
- Median survival of 9.4 months in the hormone group, versus 16.1 months among women in the placebo group of the study.
- A trend to more cases of non-small cell lung cancer in the hormone group.
For small-cell lung cancer, there was no direct link to increased mortality. Also, smoking behavior was balanced between the two study groups, but Dr. Chlebowski said that smoking and taking hormones led to an increased risk of death from the disease.
There are about 25 to 30 million HRT prescriptions written each year, and approximately 15% of postmenopausal women are still using the combination hormone replacement therapy despite scientific evidence of an increased risk of developing breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots when using the drug combination.