LOS ANGELES — In the nearly 11 years since researchers first rang alarm bells that women on hormone replacement therapy faced an increased risk of breast cancer, some have suggested that taking estrogen and progestin to treat symptoms of menopause might not be so dangerous after all.
Though it was generally agreed that women who took the two hormones to curb their hot flashes and night sweats upped their chances of developing the disease.
Many studies suggested that the cancers the women developed were less likely to be deadly.
A new analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative now casts doubt on those findings. The study, published Friday by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, concludes that the prognosis for cancers related to hormone replacement therapy is just as dire as for other breast cancers.
As a result, women who turn to the treatment are more likely to die of breast cancer than their non-hormone-taking peers.
“You could fill a basketball arena with the women who get the disease,” said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, the principal investigator for the Women’s Health Initiative and lead author of the new study. “It seems like you’d want to reach a higher threshold before you take it.” — MCT