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Hormone therapy raises breast cancer risks

October 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
New research is raising new concerns for women who take hormone replacement therapy. Scientists are confirming the treatment comes with a significant breast-cancer risk.Pre-menopausal symptoms started 10 years ago for 47-year-old Nancy Tam.

"I was fatigued. My libido was low. It was different things like that," said Tam.

She's been trying different kinds of hormone replacement therapies. Now a new study finds women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy have a higher chance of getting aggressive forms of breast cancer and die from it even years after they stop the hormones.

Up until now, research suggested taking oral synthetic hormone replacement therapy at the onset of menopause for three to five years would be safe. Now this new study is throwing that recommendation into question.

Dr. Bryan Jick, a women's health expert from Fair Oaks Women's Health Institute, says other studies have not shown these same results. He says HRT helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and helps many women get symptoms such as hot flashes under control.

"There's really no product that has been shown to provide the complete relief of menopausal symptoms, other than HRT," said Dr. Jick.

But what about HRT in different forms? Fair Oaks Women's Health Institute's Dr. Jennifer Park believes the body metabolizes other types of hormone replacement differently than oral medication.

Transdermal patches and a unique therapy in which hormone pellets are implanted under a patient's skin has helped Tam a great deal.

"I noticed a significant difference in about two weeks," said Tam.

"Keep in mind that the studies are done on oral synthetic hormones," said Dr. Park. "There are other methods that may prove to be safer."

The bottom line, expert says, is to add this new information to the other known hormone therapy risks and benefits and carefully go over your options with your doctor.

The study was done on oral synthetic HRT. Dr. Jick believes oral bio-identical hormones would perform the same way and produce the same results as synthetic hormones.


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