Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy May Increase Lung Cancer Risk
October 5, 2009 -- A new analysis of data from a hormone replacement trial of 16,608 postmenopausal women suggest those taking a combination form of hormone replacement therapy are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than those taking a placebo. The Women's Health Initiative trial tracked women aged 50-79 that had been randomly assigned a combination therapy of estrogen and progestin or a placebo.
After eight years, 73 women taking the hormone replacement therapy had died of lung cancer, compared to 40 in the placebo group. The study also found that women taking hormone replacement therapy were 28 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer--although researchers noted that finding was not statistically significant.
"Treatment with estrogen plus progestin in postmenopausal women ... increased the number of deaths from lung cancer, in particular deaths from non-small-cell lung cancer," concluded Rowan Chlebowski, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbour-UCLA Medical Center, and his colleagues.
Educating Patients on the Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy
This is not the first study to indicate a relationship between an increased risk of lung cancer and menopausal hormone replacement therapy. Unfortunately, science has not determined a time correlation between hormone therapy use and lung cancer survival. Dr. Apar Kishor Ganti, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, wrote in an accompanying editorial "...such therapy should probably be avoided in women at a high risk of developing lung cancer, especially those with a history of smoking."
Ganti continues, questioning the use of hormone therapy, "these results, along with the findings showing no protection against coronary heart disease, seriously question whether hormone-replacement therapy has any role in medicine today. It is difficult to presume that the benefits of routine use of such therapy for menopausal symptoms outweigh the increased risks of mortality, especially in the absence of improvement in the quality of life."
Additional Information Resources
- Tips from the National Institute on Aging: Hormones and Menopause
- Womenshealth.gov - Understanding Menopause: Treatment and Talking to your Doctor
- Mayo Clinic - Hormone Therapy: Is it right for you?
- US News - Health Day: Expert says study supports doubts about value of hormone therapy
Legal Support for Lung Cancer Patients
The attorneys and legal staff at Brayton Purcell monitor the health field, bringing new studies and medical information to the public's attention to ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions about your medical treatment. If you have questions or concerns, or have developed lung cancer as a result of hormone replacement therapy, please contact us.