I've said it before in Women's Health Letter: hormone therapy contributes to cancer. Now a group of scientists from all over the world are saying the same thing. They're in a research agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). Recently, they concluded that combined estrogen/progestogen therapy, whether used in birth control pills or for menopausal symptoms, is carcinogenic.
If a nutritional supplement were found to be carcinogenic, it would be pulled off the shelves immediately. But hormone therapy continues to be prescribed, sometimes with dire consequences.
One reason is because the situation isn't cut and dried. Some hormone therapy has actually been found to be protective against some forms of cancer. For instance, women who use oral contraceptives have a slight increase in breast cancer over women who don't use them. Ten years after they stop using them, however, their risk drops. But endometrial and ovarian cancers are decreased in women taking birth control pills – and their protection is greatest the longer they use them. Confusing, isn't it?
Then there's hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms. The combination of estrogen and progestogen increases your risk for breast cancer over women who just take estrogen. And if you add progestogen less than 10 days a month, your risk for endometrial cancer increases. Fortunately, there are many natural and safe solutions to most menopausal symptoms.
In the past, hormone therapy was considered to be possibly carcinogenic. Now, this eminent research team concludes that it's definitely carcinogenic.
There is, however, a gap in this study. These scientists did not examine the effects of bio-identical hormone therapy. There's a big difference between using hormones that are just like the ones your body produces and others that are foreign. Bio-identical hormones may increase your cancer risk or be protective. We just don't have enough long-term studies to know for sure.
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What, then, should you do? Become better informed about your options and talk them over with a knowledgeable doctor of integrative medicine. You'll find a wealth of information on this subject – along with ways to find a doctor who understands your options – in the archives of my newsletter on the website. All newsletter subscribers can access these articles at no cost. If you're not a subscriber yet, this could be a good reason for you to join (subscribe on the Internet and receive a free healing library of reports for free – just click on Subscribe for more information).
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Press release 167, July 29, 2005.