• Jade

Does HRT cause cancer?


3 letters that for some women are life changing and for others they bring a shudder of fear.

Constantly being questioned if it is safe, women being refused prescriptions and a whole lotta talk around cancer. These 3 letter cause quite a stir.

I will add I am not for or against HRT. I believe that you know what is right for your body.

Back in the 80’s + 90’s HRT was prescribed freely. It was hugely popular and reports were showing huge success with decreased risks of heart disease in post menopausal women and less osteoporosis.

Then WHI did a study in 2002 which states women using HRT were seen to have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Stop the press. Headlines everywhere suddenly read HRT causes breast cancer.

This suddenly caused GPs to stop prescribed HRT and gave everyone a hell of a scare.

But what’s the truth behind this?

A decade after the release of the results of the WHI study, the peer-reviewed journal Climacteric has published an entire issue re-appraising the evidence from the WHI study and other evidence published in the last 10 years.

One of the Climacteric articles stated that the WHI study was designed to address whether older women (much older than the average age for menopause, which in the UK is 52) who mostly did not have symptoms of menopause, benefitted from HRT.

However, the authors said the results were generalised to all women, and this in combination with the fact that a 26% relative risk increase in breast cancer was reported (rather than a modest increase in absolute risk) led to the HRT scare.

Other aspects of HRT’s effect on women’s health were examined, including:

· quality of life

· gynaecological and sexual health

· cost-effectiveness

· stroke

· blood clots

· colorectal cancer

· dementia

· fractures caused by osteoporosis

· overall effects of the drop in HRT use

In the new study looking at breast cancer and HRT, the authors concluded that the benefits of HRT in women with low initial risk of breast cancer and significant menopausal symptoms will outweigh the harms, because their absolute risk of cancer is low.

The link between breast cancer and HRT seen in the Million Women Survey has also been disputed by later studies, including in early 2012 a study that criticised the study design of many of the HRT studies.

The reviews concluded that HRT is associated with:

· improved quality of life in women going through the menopause

· reduced risk of coronary heart disease and death (if taken before the age of 60 or within 10 years of menopause)

· modestly increased risk of stroke, venous thromboembolism and breast cancer

· reduced risk of colorectal cancer

· reduced risk of dementia for those starting HRT early (but later use may increase risk)

· decreased risk of fracture

So not that scary right?

If menopause is ruining your quality of life then absolutely chat to your GP about HRT. If your GP isn’t supportive (some aren’t) try a women’s health physio.

Don’t suffer

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