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HRT Protects Against Endometrial Cancer

Won't increase risk, and may help prevent the disease, UK study says

THURSDAY, Aug.1, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not increase the risk of endometrial cancer and may even help prevent the disease by protecting the lining of the uterus, says a study in this week's British Medical Journal.

The study by researchers across the United Kingdom is one of the largest of its kind and included 534 postmenopausal women.

Prior to the study, 364 of the women had taken estrogen and progestin HRT, 164 hadn't used any HRT, and 10 had taken estrogen-only HRT.

During the study, the women were given continuous combined HRT. The researchers took biopsy samples from the women before they started the combined HRT, at 9 months, between 24 and 36 months, and then again at the end of the five-year study.

The biopsy results showed that 21 of the women had abnormal endometrium before the start of the study. When associated with other cellular changes, that can be an early sign of cancer. But after nine months of the combined HRT, the endometrium in all 21 women had reverted to normal. None of the 534 women developed endometrial cancer during this study.

The authors say the study indicates that women who take daily combined HRT may be better protected against endometrial cancer than women who don't take any kind of HRT.

HRT has been the subject of several recent studies, with controversial results. A national U.S. clinical trial was recently halted after a little more than five years when the health risks were found to outweigh the benefits. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported last month that women in the trial who were taking the combination of estrogen and progestin experienced a 29 percent increased rate of coronary heart disease problems, compared to women taking a placebo.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has some more facts about the use of hormones after menopause.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, Aug. 1, 2002
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