If you suffer from the side effects of menopause but are reluctant to consider hormone replacement therapy because of estrogen’s relationship to breast cancer, you have options. The type of hormone replacement therapy chosen makes a difference in any potential breast cancer risk.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can relieve the symptoms of menopause while not increasing the odds of developing breast cancer. Consult a qualified gynecologist that can advise you on what option is best for you.
Beginning in 1991, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, enrolled 160,000 women aged 50 to 79 to address major health issues causing morbidity and mortality in this cohort.
The hormone replacement therapy component of the WHI found that an estrogen/progestin therapy – used for women who still had a uterus – increased the risk of breast cancer.
However, estrogen therapy alone, used for women who had a hysterectomy, actually showed a decrease in the risk of breast cancer. Because of these results, the WHI stopped the estrogen/progestin study in 2002, and the estrogen-only study two years later.
In addition, many randomized medical trials bioidentical estrogen have been shown to have no causal relationship to breast cancer.
Estrogens in hormone replacement therapy do not to increase the risk of breast cancer. However, the addition of medroxyprogesterone, a synthetic hormone, does appear to increase the risk.
Prempro, derived from pregnant mare’s urine and its conjugated equine estrogens, also includes synthetic progestins used by women still in possession of their uterus.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, derived from plant sources, is molecularly identical to the hormones produced naturally by a woman’s body. Such bioidentical hormones not only offer protection against osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes but may lower the risk of breast cancer in patients.
Women who undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer are often plunged into chemopause, an accelerated menopause that can change them from pre-menopausal to menopausal within several weeks. They suffer the menopausal side effects, yet estrogen replacement therapy is not contraindicated. In fact there is ample evidence how beneficial replacement therapy can be. Women can suffer terrible estrogen withdrawal side effects that can be eliminated with hormonal replacement. This is highly controversial but was not unusual prior to the WHI study. Breast cancer patients have a right to their quality of life, especially when the scientific literature does not prove any growth or reoccurrence of the disease. This has been thoroughly reviewed by Dr. Avrum Bluming, a distinguished medical oncologist in his book Estrogen Matters. His wife is a breast cancer survivor who uses estrogen replacement.
Topical estrogen for vaginal dryness does not appear to increase a breast cancer patient’s risk of recurrence or new breast cancer development. Such rings or tablets do not traverse the body in the same way as other forms of hormone replacement therapy.
If you have questions about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and whether you are a suitable candidate, call the office of Dr. Edward Jacobson today and arrange a consultation.