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Does hormone replacement therapy (HRT) put me at risk for breast cancer?

Recently, a major national study found that women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- particularly those taking combined estrogen and progestin HRT for five years or longer -- had an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have been on hormone replacement for five or more years should talk to their health-care provider about the risks and benefits of treatment.

Dr. Marina Johnson
Endocrinologist

To evaluate the risk of breast cancer from HRT, women need to first understand there’s a natural occurrence of breast cancer even with NO HRT. When 10,000 women who never take HRT are followed for five years, 30 will develop breast cancer.  The more important question is how much MORE does your risk increase when you choose to take HRT?  If 10,000 women on HRT are followed for five years, 38 will develop breast cancer.  An increase of eight cases is not much when you consider that estrogen protects against heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.