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New Study Links Ovarian Cancer Risk to Hormone Replacement Therapy

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A new study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The research, conducted by a team led by Lina Steinrud Mørch, M.Sc., of Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University, Denmark, also shows that the risk remains higher up to two years after these women stop hormone therapy.

The study looked at over 900,000 Danish women who were 50 or older in 1995: the women not using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were followed for 10 years and compared to the women who had various types of HRT.

Hormone therapy accounted for five percent of ovarian cancer cases among the women studied. Overall, current HRT users were 38 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than the women who had never used HRT. Even women who had stopped taking hormones in the previous two years were at a 22 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. These findings suggest that the length of time of the therapy, the kinds and combination of hormones and the form of delivery did not correlate in any particular way to risk percentage.

The percentages may seem low, as the study measures risk levels and likelihood of developing ovarian cancer as a result of HRT, but the results are worth considering. Ovarian cancer is a fatal cancer and is usually only detected after the cancer has spread through the ovaries; the percentage of risk linking HRT to the disease makes the use of hormone therapy questionable.

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