Weigh HRT risks carefully, says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Women who are concerned about the slight increase in breast cancer risk associated with taking oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should talk to their GP and weigh their options carefully before withdrawing from treatment, Cancer Research UK has recommended.

The recommendation follows recent research which confirmed that post-menopausal women receiving long-term oestrogen-only HRT are at a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer.

"Looking at all the available evidence, it seems likely that oestrogen-only HRT slightly increases a woman's chances of developing breast cancer when used over a long period of time," said Henry Scowcroft, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.

"In 2003, in one of the world's largest studies, Cancer Research UK scientists estimated that, over ten years, oestrogen-only HRT would lead to five additional breast cancers for every 1,000 women taking the treatment.

"This compared with an estimated extra 19 breast cancers per 1,000 women taking combined HRT.

"But HRT still remains an effective short-term treatment for relief of menopausal symptoms. Women considering starting or stopping HRT should talk to their GP, who will be able to give them the information they need to make the right choice for themselves."

The study, which was carried out by the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the US, is published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Find out more about HRT and breast cancer on our patient information site, CancerHelp UK