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Higher Breast Cancer Risk for Long-Term Estrogen Users

Therapy raises chances among postmenopausal women who have had hysterectomy

TUESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women with hysterectomies who undergo long-term estrogen use have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to a study in the May 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Wendy Y. Chen, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues observed 11,508 postmenopausal women who had had a hysterectomy and who had reported information on use of estrogen at baseline, in 1980. Every two years the study was expanded to include women who newly met the study criteria, so that there were 28,835 women included in the final follow-up period from 2000 to 2002.

Among the sample there were 934 cases of invasive breast cancer, and the risk increased with the duration of use of unopposed estrogen. The highest risk was noted for cancers positive for estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor. Women who had taken estrogen for less than 10 years did not have a statistically significant increased risk of developing breast cancer, but those who had taken the hormone therapy for 15 years or more were at significantly higher risk.

"Women who take estrogen therapy for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis typically require longer-term treatment and should thus explore other options, given the increased risk of breast cancer with longer-term use," the authors conclude.

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