Following more than a decade of controversy, today we wake up to the news that hormone replacement therapy can triple the risk of breast cancer, and this has been revealed after the biggest ever study to date.
Last year we discussed that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) changed guidance to encourage more doctors to prescribe HRT claiming too many menopausal women had been left suffering in silence, and you shared your views in our Speakers Corner.
HRT is used to treat uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause – such as hot flushes, migraines, disrupted sleep, mood changes and depression – by topping up the decreased levels of hormones produced by the body.
But doctors were reluctant to prescribe it after a study in 2002 suggested it could raise the risk of cancer, a claim later widely disputed. Now new findings by the Institute of Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Now suggest the original risk had actually been underestimated.
A study of 100,000 women over 40 years found those who took the combined oestrogen and progestogen pill for around five years were 2.7 times more likely to develop cancer compared to women who took nothing, or only the oestrogen pill.
HRT was first developed in the 1940s and was first made available to women in Britain in 1965.
However in 2002 the British Millennium Women Study published findings claiming that HRT raised the risk of cancer. Many doctors immediately withdrew prescriptions while the Medical Healthcare and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued new guidance recommending all women be given the “lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest time.”
So how does this latest news make you feel? Do you take HRT? Do you know anyone who has taken HRT and developed breast cancer? With advice changing on a regular basis what influences your personal choice?