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Stopping Hormones Halts Breast Cancer

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 01:00 PM

A woman’s risk of developing breast cancer drops dramatically when she quits hormone-replacement therapy, according to a new study that confirms the belief that stopping hormones can lead to tumor regression.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, was based on an analysis of the health records of 163,490 women -- aged 50-79 -- who had no prior history of breast cancer. The study participants are part of the national Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.

“This is the first study to look over time at screening mammography use among individual women by their hormone therapy status linked with their breast cancer diagnoses,” said lead author Diana S.M. Buist, a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute.
Previous studies have found a drop in breast cancer rates — and hormone therapy — since 2002. That year, the Women’s Health Initiative published a study showing breast cancer rates were higher in women taking estrogen and progestin than in those taking either a placebo or only estrogen.

Some have suggested that the decline in use of hormone therapy may have caused the fall in the breast cancer rate, perhaps by making tumors regress. But others have said the declines in both breast cancer and hormone use might instead be because former hormone users may get less screening mammography than women who have never taken hormones.

“We set out to test this idea,” Buist said, “and our results seem to refute it.”

Before 2002, former users of hormone therapy had lower rates of screening mammography. “But we found that this is no longer true,” she said. In fact, former users had the same or even slightly higher screening rates than current users.
“We concluded that differences in rates of screening mammography don’t explain the declines in rates of the incidence of invasive breast cancer among women who’ve stopped using hormone therapy," Buist said.

The National Cancer Institute, which supports the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, funded this study.

© HealthDay

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Research confirms: Women who stop receiving hormone replacement therapy lower their cancer risk.
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 01:00 PM
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