Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston examined data from nearly 122,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study, and found that women currently using estrogen and testosterone in their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a 77 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who never used HRT. Women who had already gone through menopause and used estrogen plus testosterone ran 2.5 times the risk of breast cancer, while estrogen and progesterone HRT resulted in a 66 percent increase in risk. Women using only estrogen HRT experienced a 23 percent higher risk.
The researchers concluded that, "Although postmenopausal therapies may provide improvement with respect to sexual functioning, general well-being and bone health, the increased risk of breast cancer may outweigh these benefits."
Previous studies have shown that testosterone HRT therapies increase breast cancer risk, but experts say that in spite of research showing the dangers of such therapies, the use of testosterone HRT is likely to increase because it has been shown to increase low libido. However, the researchers recommend that women consider avoiding HRT with testosterone, especially in the long term.
Natural health advocates say symptoms of menopause can frequently be relieved by altering dietary choices, such as increasing consumption of soy foods and foods high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin E. Regular exercise has also been shown to alleviate symptoms of menopause.