Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among postmenopausal women has been linked to a sharply increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to a study conducted by a team of researchers in Denmark. The study included data from 900,000 Danish women ages 50 to 79 over eight years and found 140 extra cases of ovarian cancer – or a 38 percent greater risk of contracting the disease compared to women who did not use HRT.
“Even though this share seems low, ovarian cancer remains highly fatal, so accordingly this risk warrants consideration,” the researchers, led by Lina Steinrud Morch of Copenhagen University, wrote.
The risk of ovarian cancer from hormone replacement therapy remained steady among variables such as duration of use, formulation of hormones, estrogen dosage, or how it was administered. Earlier studies, however, suggested cancer risk diminished about two years after therapy was stopped.
The findings add fuel to the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study that was halted in 2002 after data suggested the use of HRT put women at a much greater risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, strokes and cardiovascular disease. Those findings contradicted the claims of HRT makers, who told physicians the hormones actually warded off such conditions.
Since the WHI findings became public, use of HRT has dropped considerably.