Breast Cancer and Estrogen Post Menopausal Hormone Therapy Explained

Breast cancer and estrogen link will never be completely clear, in part because we know there are different types of genetically distinct breast cancers. Editorials and commentary from journals and medical news sites have been flying to try to explain the findings that sometimes we find that taking estrogen during menopausal therapy treatment causes breast cancer, and yet in some studies breast cancer is actually prevented by prescription menopausal estrogen use! The current thinking is that 5 years or less of hormone replacement therapy in menopause is safe. It's important to remember that for you to understand  your individual breast cancer risk multiple facts have to be considered including, your own 'risk-benefit ratio' (the risks you may have of one illness off-set by benefits of the therapy), what other hormones and medications you have taken, how long you have taken what you took previously, and how long you have been off! Your gyno also will consider what your mammogram looks like, how many lumps you have had, your family history, and whether you have had children, and whether your have breast fed these children when thinking about your risk-benefit ratio. And that's just to name a few of the considerations according to V. Craig Jordan, PhD, DSc, FMedSci.,  Dr. Jordan, scientific director and vice chairman of oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center of Georgetown University, Washington, DC. and he has been quoted to say that women who haven't taken estrogen for a long time could have natural cell death of breast cancer cells induced by estrogen use. Most breast cancer cells die if you initially take away estrogen, in women not permanently cured of any breast cancer cells in their body cells will emerge (like getting resistant infection!) that will grow with just a bit of estrogen use. After a given time period when cells once deprived of estrogen, these cells will  respond differently to estrogen. Apparently the same phenomenon is seen with the anti-breast cancer drugs themselves, not just estrogen, so that we see this same response to medications like tamoxifen. So if you are confused, no worries, it's confusing, and important to gab with your gyno on what is going to be best for you.


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