Azara Blog: HRT increases the risk of ovarian cancer

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Date published: 2007/04/19

The BBC says:

A large UK study has found hormone replacement therapy significantly increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Figures from the Million Women Study suggest 1,000 extra women in the UK died from ovarian cancer between 1991 and 2005 because they were using HRT.

The researchers, writing in the Lancet, said HRT increased the risk of ovarian, breast and womb cancers.

Experts said current advice would not change and women should be on HRT for the shortest possible time.

Previous results from the Million Women Study, published in 2003, showed use of combined HRT doubles the risk of breast cancer.

The findings prompted recommendations that women weigh up the risks and benefits of HRT and take the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible time.

The new analysis of 948,576 postmenopausal women showed a 20% increased risk of developing and dying from ovarian cancer in HRT users, compared with those who had never used the treatment.

This translates to one extra case of ovarian cancer for every 2,500 women taking HRT and one extra death from ovarian cancer in every 3,300 users.

As with many cancer scare stories, most of the figures given in the article are fairly meaningless when trying to decide whether taking HRT is worth the risk. It is only in the last paragraph that any useful number is given. Women will have to decide whether it is worth the extra 1 in 2500 chance of getting ovarian cancer (and no doubt there are similar figures for breast cancer) as a trade-off for the benefit of taking HRT.

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