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Originally published September 1 2009

Long or Short Term Use: All Hormone Replacement Therapy Raises Ovarian Cancer Risk

by S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Cancer of the ovary is rarely found early and, by the time it is discovered, the disease has frequently spread. So prevention is the most important way to fight this frequently deadly malignancy. Unfortunately, new research shows a medical treatment -- hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- which was hyped for decades as a way to prevent health problems in women while boosting libido and moods can cause ovarian cancer. The study, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes the ability of HRT to trigger ovarian cancer is so strong that women are at risk whether they are currently taking the hormones or if they took it at all in the past.

In fact, the increased risk of ovarian cancer persists regardless of the duration of use, the formulation, the dose of estrogen taken, the prescribed regimen of HRT, or the route of administration (by mouth or patch). This is a particularly important fact because HRT is still being advertised, prescribed and pushed as just fine for most women short term, even though previous research has linked to it health problems ranging from breast cancer and dementia to strokes. Bottom line: it is now clear that long or short term use of HRT is risky and downright dangerous.

Scientist Lina Steinrud Morch of Rigshospitalet at Copenhagen University in Denmark, and her research team investigated cases of ovarian cancer associated with the use of HRT. They took on the huge task of studying medical information on all Danish women between the ages of 50 and 79 years whose health records were included in Danish national registers from 1995 to 2005. These records contained data on prescriptions the women took, including their individually updated use of hormones. Then the researchers used the Danish National Cancer Register and Pathology Register in order to gather information on the incidence of ovarian cancer.

In all, this massive study included almost a million women (909,946) who either had not been diagnosed with hormone-sensitive cancer or who had not had both ovaries surgically removed. By the end of the study's follow-up period, 63 percent of the women had never taken HRT, 22 percent were found to have previously taken the hormones, and nine percent were currently taking hormone replacement therapy. Almost half of the current users of HRT had taken the hormones for more than seven years.

The results of the study showed that, compared with women who never took HRT, current users of hormone replacement therapy had an overall 38 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer. When the scientists looked only at the most common form of ovarian malignancy known as epithelial ovarian cancer (which arises from the outer lining of the ovary), the relative risk among current HRT users soared to 44 percent.

"If this association is causal, use of hormones has resulted in roughly 140 extra cases of ovarian cancer in Denmark over the mean follow-up of eight years, i.e., five percent of the ovarian cancers in this study. Even though this share seems low, ovarian cancer remains highly fatal, so accordingly this risk warrants consideration when deciding whether to use HT," the authors stated in the JAMA paper.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 21,550 new cases of ovarian cancer are expected to be diagnosed in American women in 2009. Deaths attributed to this disease are projected at 14,600.

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