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19
Feb 2015
DOES HRT INCREASE OVARIAN CANCER RISK?

This was rather a worrying headline suggesting that taking HRT doubled the risk of cancer. This is not correct but the actual increase in risk on an individual basis is small.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) uses hormones that are made in the laboratory (synthetic hormones) for the menopause or change of life.

The menopause can be very distressful for some women with hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness as well as mood changes with depression or anxiety. Being unable to concentrate can be a frightening experience for women in say a demanding position at work.

This was a review looking at 52 previous studies and they did find a higher risk of cancer compared with women who were not taking the drug.

The Oxford researchers examined over 21000 women and the increaseincancer incidence was directly related to the length of time of HRT use and the shorter length of time since the treatment was stopped.

But I think we need to put this into perspective. If a woman has used HRT for a period of 5 years from approximately 50 years of age then there is a risk of one extra ovarian cancer per 1000 women and one extra death per 1700 users.

This is a very low risk but if you are reading this and are worried, then talk to your doctor.

The benefits to quality of life have to be weighed against the small increase in risk.

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