Even Short-Term HRT Use May Increase Ovarian Cancer Risk

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Short-Term HRT Use
Short-Term HRT Use

(HealthDay News) — Women who use hormone therapy after menopause – even for just a few years – may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to new research. The meta-analysis was published online February 12 in The Lancet.

Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues pooled the results of 52 studies with a total of 12,110 women with ovarian cancer, about half of whom used hormone replacement therapy.

The researchers found that for women who used hormone replacement therapy for less than five years after menopause, the risk of ovarian cancer increased by 43%. The increased risk of ovarian cancer in hormone replacement therapy users was similar in European and American women. It was also similar whether or not a woman used an estrogen-progesterone hormone replacement therapy or estrogen alone. The hormone therapy was only found to increase two of the four types of ovarian cancer, serous and endometrioid, Peto told HealthDay.

Peto said the increased risk was significant from a statistical standpoint but emphasized that the risk is a small one. It would mean that for women who take hormone therapy for five years from around age 50, one extra ovarian cancer diagnosis for every 1,000 users would be expected, and one extra ovarian cancer death for every 1,700 users. When it comes to hormone therapy and ovarian cancer risk, Peto said, "the idea that anything less than five years is safe isn't true."

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