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Ending Hormone Therapy May Cause Breast Cancer To Regress

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The hypothesis that women who stop taking hormone medication postmenopause could bring about a regression of breast tumor has now been supported by a new study conducted by researchers who worked for the national Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.

The study indicated that on quitting hormone therapy there was a measurable decline in the rate of new breast cancer in the older age group. (1)

The study's findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention. It studied 163,490 women aged 50-79 with no prior history of breast cancer who were Group Health Cooperative members.

According to the lead researcher, author of the study and a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute, Diana S.M. Buist, PhD, “This is the first study to look over time at screening mammography use among individual women by their hormone therapy status linked with their breast cancer diagnoses.” (2)

Back in 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative published a report that such women who were taking both estrogen and progestin had a higher incidence of developing breast cancer than those who were being given a placebo or estrogen only.

This had coincided with a rapid decline in new cases of breast cancer as well as a decline in those who opted for hormone therapy and screening mammography.

There were two sets of explanations for the decline in rates. One group suggested that the decline had occurred because less women were opting for hormone therapy. However others said that declines in both breast cancer and hormone use could be reflecting attitude and perspective differences. Former hormone users were less concerned about breast cancer or rarely consulted doctors, and may be opting for less screening mammography than women who have never taken the hormone route.

The suggestion that prior to 2002 former users of the hormone therapy seem to have lower rates of screening mammography than current users of the therapy, was tested through data collection. However, this finding was proven false.

Study revealed that former users had the same or even slightly higher screening rates than current users of hormone therapy. It was then concluded that the difference in the rate of screening mammography was not a part of the equation defining decline in the rate of incidence of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who had earlier opted for hormone therapy.


1. Stopping Hormone Therapy Might Help Breast Cancer to Regress; Science Daily News; March 2012; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120228190932.htm

2. Stopping hormones might help breast cancer to regress; Group Health research Institute; March 2012; http://www.grouphealthresearch.org/news-and-events/newsrel/2012/120228.html

Technical report of the study may be accessed at:

1. Screening Mammography Use among Current, Former, and Never Hormone Therapy Users May Not Explain Recent Declines in Breast Cancer Incidence; Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention; March 2012; http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2012/02/17/1055-9965.EPI-11-1115.abstract?sid=9a5f5ae1-550c-431a-abaa-23d935cda56c

Reviewed April 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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