Declining Breast Cancer Rates and HRT
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) brings with it benefits and risks. For each woman going through the menopausal transition, it is a unique, personal decision about whether or not to take HRT to handle the signs and symptoms of this change of life.
Balancing Benefits and RisksOne important part of this choice is to balance out the risks and benefits, both in terms of HRT and your own health history of risk factors. One new study is adding more data to the mix.
A Scottish study found that the incidence of invasive breast cancer fell when the use of HRT went down. What it means is that as doctors prescribed the therapy less often, the numbers of women suffering from this kind of cancer similarly followed.
Fluctuations in HRT PrescriptionsWhen researchers looked at the data, they found that prescriptions for HRT initially went up between 1993 and 2000. By 2007, these numbers had fallen dramatically. In 2007, researchers saw that prescriptions had fallen by more than half since 2000.
In line with these figures, researchers also found that the incidence of screen-detected tumours slowly went up over the initial years up to 2000. These figures then went down by more than ten percent by 2005. The ultimate conclusion by researchers is that this fall can be attributed to the major decrease in HRT use.
What are the Recommendations?Most experts maintain that if a woman is suffering from severe menopause symptoms, she should use HRT at the lowest possible dose. The therapy should also be used for the shortest possible period of time to help minimise the risks of HRT.
Controversy Over the FindingsThe drug makers and some other researchers challenge the findings of this particular study. They cite that there could be one or more other factors that led to the decline in breast cancer, as opposed to the HRT.
Criticisms of the StudyFor instance, breast cancer rates are now remaining stable. Yet, the use of HRT is still declining. If the study is correct, it has been argued that we should continue to see a fall in breast cancer rates.
Even some international organisations agree with this premise. One organisation explains that breast cancer takes many years to develop to the point where we can even detect its presence. If HRT were the reason for its decline, then we would supposedly not see the corresponding drop in breast cancer rates for many more years.