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Combined Hormone Therapy Increases Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality

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Recent study compares users and nonusers of combined hormone therapy

Estrogen plus progestin use is tied to increased breast cancer incidence. In a recent study, researchers determined that both users and nonusers of combined hormone therapy experience similar breast cancer prognosis, suggesting that breast cancer mortality may also be greater for those patients taking combined hormone therapy.

For the study, lead researcher Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD, PhD, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and colleagues studied postmenopausal women with negative mammograms within 2 years and no prior hysterectomy. Some of the women were prescribed estrogen and progestin combined therapy, and others were not.

Study results showed that patients taking estrogen plus progestin experienced a higher incidence of breast cancer compared with patients not taking the combination. Researchers also discovered that starting combination hormone therapy closer to menopause resulted in a higher breast cancer risk. As time from menopause increased, influence decreased.

“Because survival after breast cancer diagnosis did not differ between estrogen plus progestin users and nonusers, the higher breast cancer incidence of those using estrogen plus progestin may lead to increased breast cancer mortality on a population basis,” study authors wrote.

The study is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Source: NCI.