For many years women were told that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) offered as Estrogen Therapy (ET) or a combination of Estrogen and Progesterone (Hormone Therapy or HT) was the easy way to avoid any symptoms of the menopause. Women were given either natural or synthetic hormones to reduce hot flashes, headaches, moodiness, insomnia, and vaginal dryness.
Unfortunately doctors are beginning to realize that women have a unique hormone profile. That means that the effect of hormone replacement therapy could work for your neighbor, but have no effect on you. Rather like the fact that one girls acne cure does nothing for her best friend, acne is also linked to hormones.
Recent medical studies have indicated that there is a link between HRT and breast cancer risk. Both natural and synthetic Estrogen and Progesterone can cause acceleration in the growth of breast tissue, and breast cancer can first appear in fast growing tissue. Some doctors believe that estrogen is broken down within the breast tissue, and the resultant compound can then bind to strands of DNA and cause breast cancer that way.
Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to isolate one cause of cancer and blame it on one specific thing because hereditary, diet and lifestyle all play a part. At this point there may be a link between hormone replacement therapy and cancer but many more medical studies need to be conducted to ascertain exactly how that link works. At this time doctors think that there is a definite increased risk of breast cancer when ET and HT are used beyond five years, but other doctors feel that the risk is there period.
If you are a breast cancer survivor, then it may be that HRT can stimulate the growth of small tumors, or hidden cells called micrometastases. There is no clear link between women who have a genetic risk of cancer and HRT. But today doctors are erring on the side of caution and making a recommendation that women with a cancer risk avoid HRT. Other risk factors are women that experience the menopause later in life.
However, there are a number of women who are comfortable with the risks and want to take HRT anyway. A close relationship with your doctor is important and a journal which can pinpoint exactly what is happening is a good idea. There is an evidence that a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables will regulate the levels of estrogens in your system naturally. Macronutrients are not going to do any harm and there is a strong argument that they can ward off a cancer risk in their own right as well as regulating hormones. Another benefit is adequate exercise which does not mean going to a gym. A brisk walk that elevates the heart rate slightly for half an hour is just as beneficial as a gym membership. It is cardiovascular exercise and it reduces the risk of obesity, because the link between obesity and cancer is certainly there.
By: Rita Goldman