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BLOG: April 2007

Ovarian cancer and HRT

A recent UK study on nearly 1 million postmenopausal women has found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT),

increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 20%.

The number reflects estimated 1,000 woman who developed ovarian cancer between 1991 to 2005, and died, as a result of HRT (BBC).

Previously published results, also from the Million Women Study, showed that combined HRT (estrogen and progesterone) doubles the risk of breast cancer over 5-year period. Over 10-year period, the risk is increased four fold. Total incidence of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer was 63% higher in women taking HRT.

This study pretty much answers the question of what would have happened if the Women Health Initiative study (US) wasn't stopped in 2002, much before its planned 2005 ending, as the early results showed that HRT health risks clearly outweigh its benefits.

After the first year of this study, 8,400 women under therapy had higher rates of incidence for cardiovascular disease (23%), stroke (38%), pulmonary embolism (114%) and breast cancer (27%), while 37% lover rate of colorectal cancer and 33% lower rate of hip fractures, than the control group.

From another angle, the therapy's adverse effects

outweighed its positive effects by about three to one

for the above disorders.

 The official response to both studies pretty much can be summarized by "Yeah, so what?". Government agencies, medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry don't dispute the results. Yes, the therapy increases the chances of cancer, especially breast cancer.

Yes, it also increases the chances of cardiovascular and other diseases (pulmonary embolism, stroke) resulting from the greater tendency for blood clotting (that comes without "We're sorry" in any form, for they have told to millions and millions of women taking HRT during the 1990s that the therapy

would lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease 

(an expected but, obviously, uncertain effect of estrogen).

But, they go on, the risk for the individual women is "insignificant". And there is still the benefit of preventing of relieving the symptoms of menopause, as well as slowing down osteoporosis. So, they advise, HRT is still a viable therapy, and every woman should consider risks and benefits in her individual case.

How "insignificant" really is the risk for individual woman? Well, according to the WHI study, her chances to develop breast cancer in any given year are 1 in 333 without HRT, and 1 in 263 with it. Over 5-year period, they are 1 in 67 w/o therapy and, according to the Million Women Study, 1 in 34 with it. And over 10-year period

the chances are 1 in 33 without the therapy, and 1 in 8 with it

(keep in mind that the data is for women over 50 years of age).

I hope this latest UK study will persuade the doctors to stop falsely presenting the chances of HRT inflicted breast cancer as "slight" to the general public and patients-alike.

And, the word "insignificant" sounds inappropriate to say the least, considering that at the current volume of HRT use in the US (about 6 million), combined with the US breast cancer mortality rate, HRT will cause up to

several hundreds breast cancer inflicted deaths
of "individual women" this year alone.

with many more suffering through the disease.

Insignificant? Perhaps for profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies and career-minded medical doctors.

Dare not to think what the number of HRT caused deaths is for the past decade, when as many as 15 million US women a year were using the therapy, with

even more woman dying from HRT caused heart attack, or stroke,

than from breast cancer. It could easily top 30,000 victims in the US alone. Still "insignificant"? Let alone professional and human ethic, is there such word as "accountability" when it comes to the business of selling and medically endorsing drugs?

Had it been a herbal supplement "X", instead of the HRT, it would be off the shelves in no time, just the way it is supposed to be. Instead, HRT is merely made to be another "elephant in the room" story.

Worse yet, the medical establishment is shamelessly trying to score on this huge, tragic blunder. Since the number of women using HRT has fallen by over 50% after the 2003 WHI study results became public (US, UK, Canada), the incidence of breast cancer caused deaths (primarily estrogen-related breast cancer type) also dropped significantly.

But the medical establishment is trying to sell its own version of this inconvenient fact, promoting that it is mainly due to "better screening methods".

As for the benefits of estrogen therapy, they can be safely achieved with skin creams made of wild yam. These contain plant-produced progesterone which is absorbed through the skin and metabolized by the body into human progesterone and estrogen varieties, as needed9. It makes it effective, yet inherently safe.

Any drawbacks? It can take up to few months to kick in. Also, it won't make nearly as much money to the manufacturers as patented synthetic hormones.

Talking about ovarian cancer, seems that mother nature has better answer for it too. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have recently found that ginger causes ovarian cancer cells to die

at a "similar or better rate"
than commonly used platinum-based chemotherapy drugs.

No side-effects to consider with ginger either.