Breast Cancer Rates Drop as Hormone Replacement Therapy Drops

breast cancerMy mom was on Prempro, a hormone replacement drug, and now I'm worried.

A new study, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals that breast cancer rates have dropped suddenly and steadily. Why? Because in 2002, the federal government warned against using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause.

A major decrease in new instances of breast cancer is fantastic beyond words. My mother lost her sister--my aunt--to this horrible disease. And my aunt's suffering was truly horrible. Knowing fewer women will go through breast cancer is reason to get out the pink champagne--not too much--and celebrate.

I'm so happy about the decline in breast cancer that I might even wear pink this morning.


But I do worry.

My mom has already had two bouts of cancer--successfully treated, fingers crossed--but she was on Prempro until 2002 when the National Institutes of Health told women they should stop.

The NIH found that Prempro--a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin--increased breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Another study concluded that Prempro increased dementia in elderly women.

Six million women were on Prempro around the world. They used the drug to strengthen bones, curb hot flashes and reduce vaginal dryness during and after menopause, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal. All of the countries have seen drops in breast cancer since they stopped using this HRT.

Prempro's drug company, Wyeth, is facing lawsuits from more than 11,000 women who took it. Their senior vice president was quoted as saying, "It may be coincidence that as mammography was increasing in the late 90s, more and more cancers were being detected earlier, and when the study was halted, there's a coincidence in time."

I so don't believe that. I'm just glad that my mom--and millions of other women--are no longer taking Prempro.

Hormone replacement therapies, including Prempro, are still being prescribed, and they are generally considered safe with close monitoring from doctors. Women don't take them for prolonged use anymore, either. CafeMoms who are on HRTs or thinking about HRTs discussed this subject in the Questions: Health section.

Do you think hormone replacement therapies are safe?

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