Breast Cancer & Common Myths

By MedStudio Staff

Overview: This article breaks through the common myths about HRT and breast cancer, and identifies the facts around this subject.

The Facts

One of the most common concerns raised by those interested in hormone replacement therapy is related to the perceived risk of breast cancer.

“Most experts in the medical field today would agree that hormones might influence breast cancer but do not cause breast cancer. Breast cancer originates in a mutation.” – Dr. Leon Speroff, MD, NCMP Professor Emeritus, OB/GYN, Oregon Health & Science University

World Health Organization: Women’s Health Initiative Study

In 2002, a study conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative on synthetic hormones was halted early due to reportedly perceived adverse and serious side effects (1). Doctors misunderstood the WHI findings. Many women who’ve had hysterectomies shared their fears and concerns about how their doctors put them on and then took them off of hormones despite the risks for osteoporosis, heart disease, and breast cancer.

In 2013, an article written by the Yale School of Medicine appeared in the American Journal of Public Health and was reported in Yale News (2). The widespread rejection of estrogen therapy after the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study has most likely led to almost 50,000 unnecessary deaths over the last 10 years among women aged 50 to 69 who have had a hysterectomy.

Prior to the incorrect reporting in 2002, the Yale authors estimated that 90 percent of women age 50 to 59 who had hysterectomies took estrogen to control hot flashes, prevent osteoporosis, and treat other diseases related to hormone deficiency. But, by 2013, approximately 10 percent of women aged 50 to 59 take estrogen therapy. The remaining 90 percent are putting their lives at risk over incorrect information about hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer.

The truth is that for women without a uterus, estrogen-only therapy may be life saving. Women who took estrogen had fewer deaths each year for 10 years and were less likely to develop breast cancer and heart disease than those who took placebo (3).

In conclusion, “Distortion of details can prove to be nothing less than lethal,” the Yale authors wrote. “The Women’s Health Initiative findings need to be presented so that the very important differences between the two treatment modalities are emphasized and the benefits for hysterectomized women aged 50-59 years are appreciated. This effort has clearly been inadequate to date.”

Sally’s Story of Renewed Energy

“I was on hormone medications for years due to a hysterectomy at an early age, but could still not get regulated. The last straw was when intimacy had pretty much come to a screeching halt and felt more like a chore (like doing dishes!). I stopped all hormone medications and started the [natural] hormone treatments, and – oh my gosh – the changes are beyond amazing. I have more energy, no more mood swings or hot flashes, I sleep at night, and my husband feels like he is trying to keep up with me for once.” – Sally S.

  1. National Institutes of Health, News Release. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/pr_02-7-9.pdf.
  2. Yale News. July 18, 2013. http://news.yale.edu/2013/07/18/women-hysterectomies-estrogen-may-be-lifesaver-after-all.
  3. Yale News. July 18, 2013. http://news.yale.edu/2013/07/18/women-hysterectomies-estrogen-may-be-lifesaver-after-all.