- NEW YORK - A new study may let 40 million American women breathe
a little easier.
- Many of these women =97 those in the
over 50 group =97 have been gambling = on their health by taking estrogen
and other female hormones to replenish their dwindling natural supplies.
Hormone replacement therapy provides protection against osteoporosis and
heart disease, but a number of studies have also linked it to a troubling
increase in breast cancer rates.
- This news, however, indicates that those
breast cancer risks may not be as ominous as previously thought, further
tipping the balance in favor of HRT.
- The study, published in Wednesday=92s
Journal of the American Medical Association, found HRT was associated with
a type of breast cancer tumors that are less common and have a more favorable
outcome than other types.
- "It=92s good news and it's good
news," said Susan M. Gapstur, Ph.D., a Northwestern University Medical
School epidemiologist and lead author of the study. "This study offers
more information to say that the benefits [of HRT] continue to outweigh
- The Study - Giving Iowa a Try
- In the study, Gapstur and her colleagues
analyzed data from a 10-year survey of over 37,000 post-menopausal women
in Iowa who were selected at random from Iowa drivers' license records
in 1986, and were followed through 1996.
- Gapstur and her colleagues weeded out
women who had reported a previous mastectomy or had already had cancer
other than skin cancer and looked at the effect of HRT and other factors
on the rest of the cancer-negative women. They were unable to look at specific
types of HRT/estrogen-only or estrogen plus progesterone because the survey
did not ask women which therapy they were using.
- 96 percent of women with localized breast
cancer survive at least five years.
- Women in the study who used HRT for five
years or less had 1.81 times the number of invasive carcinomas with a favorable
histology; those who had used HRT for over five years had 2.65 times the
risk of these cancers than non-hormone users, while they did not have increased
numbers of other types of breast cancer.
- The researchers accounted for other factors
influencing breast cancer rates such as body mass index, smoking, age of
first childbirth and family history of cancer, but they found this increased
tumor risk was independent of all these factors.