According to a large study in Denmark that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), hormone replacement therapy (HRT) definitively increases the risk of ovarian cancer and was estimated to be responsible for 5 percent of ovarian cancer cases in the study.
The medical profession says that if women use an estrogen-only HRT for 10 years or longer, they are at increased risk of getting ovarian cancer in the future. But the JAMA study said that it doesn’t matter what type of HRT is used or how long it is used for -- any HRT increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
The study, which was nationwide across Denmark, involved nearly 910,000 women aged 50-79 without hormone-sensitive cancer.
The women were followed from 1995 to 2005 to see how many of them would develop ovarian cancer. Among these women, 3,068 ovarian cancers were diagnosed and of those 2,681 were epithelial cancers.
Current and previous users of HRT were found to have an increased incidence of ovarian cancer compared with non-users.
The risk of getting ovarian cancer also decreased with years since last use, so the greater the time interval since women last took the medication, the less likely they were to get it.
It also didn’t seem to matter which types of hormone combinations were used, how they were administered or how long the women took them for. The risk was the same.
Hormone therapy is estimated to have resulted in 140 extra ovarian cancer cases in Demark during the study, or 5 percent of the cases.
The research authors stated that although this figure may seem low, the death rate for ovarian cancer is high, so the extra risk should be taken into consideration before deciding to use HRT.
Ovarian Cancer Statistics
In the United States, an estimated 22,280 women will be diagnosed in 2012, with 15,500 women losing their lives. (3)
In the U.K. in 2008, 4,400 women died from ovarian cancer, which means on average that one British woman dies every two hours. (2)
Ovarian cancer is the number one gynecological killer and the fourth most fatal cancer in the U.K.