Two years ago, M.D. Anderson researchers announced a 7 percent drop in breast cancer rates which coincidentally occurred around the same time that women were being told by the media and their doctors of the possible link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and serious diseases and conditions such as breast cancer and heart disease.
The link was discovered during the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a major 15-year research program launched in 1991 to address the most common causes of death, disability and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women – cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The study was halted prematurely because participants on HRT exceeded the boundary for breast cancer risk that was established at the beginning of the study. There also was an increased risk for heart disease for patients on HRT compared to those who were not.
But a new report published online Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that cases of breast cancer had fallen 2.2 percent between 1999 and 2002, several years before hormone replacement therapy became an issue, meaning other factors may be involved, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Overall, the report pointed to a first-time drop in the cancer rates among both men and women, according to the story. It also showed a dramatic drop in the 15-year decline in cancer death rates, meaning people diagnosed with cancer are living longer. Researchers credit aggressive cancer prevention and treatment efforts for the successes in the fight against the country’s No. 2 killer.