Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, has been a relief for many women with menopause - helping them with symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats vaginal dryness and insomnia. HRT comes in two forms: One that is only made up of estrogen alone (ERT), which is used for patients who have undergone hysterectomies. The other type of hormone replacement therapy is combined HRT, which is made up of estrogen and progestin and is used on patients who still have their uterus.
While HRT has been helpful for menopausal women, studies indicate that it may be a double-edged sword that increases patients' risks of developing several types of cancers.
Studies Linking Hormone Replacement Therapy and Cancer
Several studies have been conducted by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) and have linked HRTs with different kinds of cancers. Among the findings, researchers found:
- Breast cancer. The WHI found that those who take combined HRT are five to six percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who were taking the placebo during the study. The risks, however, were not increased in women who took ERT or estrogen-only hormone replacement drugs.
- Ovarian cancer. Women who take ERT for five years or more are 50 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Those who already had ovarian cancer are 20 percent more likely to die from the disease with the use of ERT. However, the link between HRT and ovarian cancer is still being studied.
- Colorectal cancer. With colorectal cancer, women who take HRT actually benefit from the drug: Studies found that these patients are about 40 percent less likely to develop this kind of cancer.
- Endometrial cancer. Women taking HRT were not any more likely to develop endometrial cancer than other patients. However, with ERT, studies found that there is a risk of developing this type of cancer, though the impact is still being investigated.
Additionally, taking hormone replacement therapy is also known to increase a woman's risk of developing blood clots, having heart disease or stroke.
Some Texas personal injury attorneys say that despite evidence from medical authorities suggesting that hormone replacement therapy does in fact help with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, the health risks like cancer are too high to ignore.