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Originally published October 17 2008

Hormone Replacement Therapy Boosts Risk of Recurring Cancer

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Breast cancer survivors who undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a treatment for menopause symptoms are significantly more likely to have their cancer recur than survivors who do not use HRT, according to a study conducted by researchers from Kings College London and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"The results ... indicate a substantial risk for a new breast cancer event among breast cancer survivors using hormone-replacement therapy," the researchers wrote.

"It seems that harmful side effects of HRT have finally been clearly demonstrated," Kathy Pritchard of Canada's Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Researchers followed 442 women breast cancer survivors for four or more years. Most of the women were Scandinavian, and half had been given HRT. All the participants had originally participated in a study on HRT that was halted early in 2003, when researchers became concerned that the women undergoing the treatment were at a significantly higher risk of breast cancer recurrence.

That concern was confirmed in the current study, which found a 14 percent higher recurrence rate among women in the HRT group.

Formerly very popular as a way to relieve severe menopause symptoms, HRT fell out of favor in 2002 when evidence emerged that it increased women's risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, strokes and other life-threatening health conditions. Since then, health professionals have widely accepted that HRT increases the risk of new cancers in women, but its effects on recurrence have not been well studied.

"Our results ... suggest that hormone therapy not only induces and promotes breast cancer, but may also stimulate the growth of tumor microdeposits in breast cancer survivors," the researchers wrote. "The risk elevation is in line with the evidence from observational studies and randomized trials that [HRT] increases the risk of breast cancer in healthy women."

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