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Originally published March 29 2009

Slight Drop in Breast Cancer Because So Many Women Stopped Using Dangerous HRT Drugs

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The drop in popularity of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the treatment of menopause symptoms has led to an equally large drop in breast cancer rates, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It confirms that stopping hormones really does reduce cancer,'' said researcher Marcia Stefanick of Stanford University.

Researchers conducted a follow-up analysis on 15,000 women who had previously participated in the landmark 2002 Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, which concluded that use of Wyeth's drug PremPro, which combines estrogen and progestin, increases women's risk of breast cancer by 27 percent. All participants in that study were advised to cease using the drug, and the popularity of HRT dropped dramatically across the world. In the United States, prescriptions fell by two-thirds -- from 60 million in 2001 to 20 million in 2005.

"It was a big seller -- a very big seller. Then there was an enormous change,'' said Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women's Health Network in Washington D.C. "It was one of the biggest changes in prescribing habits for a drug commonly used by millions of healthy people.''

The researchers compared breast cancer rates among the 15,000 WHI participants and 41,449 other HRT patients who had not taken part in the study. Approximately half of the latter had chosen to discontinue the therapy after the WHI study, while the others continued using it.

They study found that the cancer risk among women who continued using HRT was even higher than previously thought, doubling every year among women who used it for five years of more. In contrast, the risk of breast cancer dropped dramatically among women who stopped using the therapy. Likewise, breast cancer rates have significantly declined since 2002, roughly on par with the drop in HRT use.

"I would encourage women to try and make it through menopause without starting hormone treatment,'' Stefanick said. "If you do start, go for the lowest dosage and the shortest duration."

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