Second study adds to hormone therapy fears

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Women using hormone replacement therapy on a long-term basis are at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer, research showed yesterday.

Women using hormone replacement therapy on a long-term basis are at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer, research showed yesterday.

Doubts about the safety of oestrogen-only HRT came a week after scientists warned that another form of the therapy increased the risk of invasive breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

In last week's alert, a major American study was abandoned after the dangers of taking combined HRT, which includes oestrogen and progesterone, were found to outweigh the benefits.

Now a second study in the United States has shown that women taking oestrogen-only HRT have a 60 per cent greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have never used HRT.

Women using the single hormone therapy for 20 years or more are three times more likely to develop the disease, according to research at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. But the likelihood of a woman contracting ovarian cancer was still very small. Out of 44,241 women taking part in the study, a total of 329 developed the disease, and only 16 cancers occurred among those who had been using HRT for more than two decades.

Women using the combined preparation did not appear to be at increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But Dr James Lacey, who led the study, involving post-menopausal women with an average age of 56, said more research was needed before the twin-hormone therapy was cleared of any link to ovarian cancer.

Dr Kenneth Noller, from New England Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, said in an accompanying article that the results were "worrisome enough" for doctors to think twice about prescribing oestrogen-only HRT. "Oestrogen replacement therapy certainly is not the panacea it once appeared," he wrote.

Comments