The 1999 study by Dr. Susan M. Gapstur et al.: “Hormone Replacement Therapy and Risk of Breast Cancer With a Favorable Histology: Results of the Iowa Women's Health Study” attempts to find out whether hormone replacement therapy promotes the growth of breast cancer. Current data is not conclusive about whether there is a link between hormone replacement therapy and cancer. This is important to find out since many women use hormone replacement therapy to help with their menopause symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy has been proven to reduce the menopause symptoms of osteoporosis, as well as reducing the risk for coronary heart disease. However, many women fear to take hormone replacement therapy for their menopause symptoms because of its possible link to breast cancer.
The study sought to determine whether hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms influenced the type of invasive carcinoma, in particular ductal and lobular carcinoma. Information was taken from the Iowa Women's Health Study. This study tracked postmenopausal women in the Midwest for eleven years, from January 1986 to December 1996.1520 postmenopausal women from the ages of 55 and 69 with incidents of breast cancer were selected from a total of 37,105 women.
Ductal and lobular carcinomas make up 85% to 90% of breast cancer tumors. This is why the study chose to focus mostly on these two types of cancer. Information regarding the exact risks that hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms would have implications for hormonally related solutions to what could possibly be hormone replacement therapy.
The results of the study were that hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms is associated with an augmented rate of invasive breast cancer with a favorable histology. A positive, dose-response correlation was noted between duration of receiving hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms and the occurrence of breast cancer. The correlation appeared to be stronger for present users than previous users. However, hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms was not noted associated with the detection of invasive ductal or lobular carcinoma.
In conclusion, studies such as this one are important to take into account so that the risks of hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms are weighed against the benefits. These considerations must be weighed seriously since so many women in the United States take hormone replacement therapy for their menopause symptoms. From this study, it would appear that use of hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms only increases the risk of less common types of cancers that stand a good chance of being cured. Physicians should take this into account when patients complain that hormone replacement therapy runs the risk of increasing incidents of breast cancer.