Breast cancer fall may be linked to HRT

In collaboration with the Press Association

A fall in the number of breast cancer cases seen in the US may be linked to reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), University of Texas researchers have said.

Breast cancer cases fell by seven per cent in the US in 2003 - around 14,000 individual diagnoses - and by 12 per cent among women aged 50 to 69 years old.

The number of women aged between 50 and 69 using HRT in the US fell by around 50 per cent in 2002, following a trial showing that HRT could be linked to breast cancer.

The researchers stressed that the finding was based on population figures alone and that they had not attempted to discover the cause of the sudden fall in breast cancer cases.

"The drop in breast cancer rates among women aged 50 to 69 in the US may be due to the drop in the use of HRT," said Professor Valerie Beral of Cancer Research UK. "This would fit with the world wide evidence on the effect of HRT on breast cancer.

"Although HRT increases the risk of breast cancer while it's being used, once women stop taking it the risk falls away quite quickly.

"There has also been a slight drop in breast cancer incidence in UK women aged 50 to 64 between 2003/04."

The study was presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.