By Laura Harman
A recent study has found that nearly half of the menopausal women surveyed are concerned that HRT could be related to breast cancer.
The survey by Mumsnet and Gransnet found that 4 in 10 women are concerned that taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to help menopause symptoms may lead to breast cancer.
Of the 1,096 women surveyed, 71% are going through or have gone through perimenopause and 51% are going through or have gone through menopause. Of these women, a large portion say they are worried about increasing their risk of breast cancer by taking HRT.
The survey reveals that 41% of perimenopausal women and 40% of menopausal women agree that they are nervous about the links between HRT and breast cancer. So is there actually anything for them to be worried about?
Dr. Louise Newson, a GP and menopause specialist who holds an Advanced Menopause Specialist certificate with FSRH and the BMS, said, “It’s important to remember that the risk of breast cancer is most influenced by factors you can’t do much about (such as age and family history) as well as three you can do something about (weight, alcohol intake and exercise).”
Dr. Newson continued to say, “These risk factors are associated with a greater risk of breast cancer than taking any type of HRT. I believe—and NICE guidelines tell us—that most women would benefit from taking HRT to help with their symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and also help protect their future health from heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.”
Is there a link between HRT and breast cancer?
Abbas Kanani, Superintendent Pharmacist for Chemist Click spoke to woman&home.com and debunked some of the theories about HRT being related to breast cancer.
"HRT is a treatment that works to reduce menopausal symptoms by altering hormone levels in the body. During menopause many women start to experience symptoms such as mood changes and hot flushes and HRT can actually help to reduce these symptoms," Abbas explained.
"Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, however, this risk is small. For a lot of women, the benefits of HRT will outweigh the risks however you should always consult your GP if you have any concerns or queries concerning HRT," said Abbas.
Abbas continued to explain, "A study published by the BMJ has suggested that risks are lower than studies may have initially indicated and that there is a decline in risk once treatment is stopped. Ultimately, it comes down to whether the benefits outweigh the risks involved."
When asked why some people might think that HRT is related to breast cancer, he replied, "There have been studies suggesting that HRT use is associated with increased risks of breast cancer. This has been highlighted by media outlets emphasising the results of these studies."
"Your doctor will always take into consideration the risks, and weigh them up against the benefits before prescribing you with HRT," he concluded.
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