Hormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer: What you need to know
Menopause is a stage in the life of every woman. Beginning in her 40s or 50s, it is marked by the end of her menstrual cycles. The average age in the US is 51.
Strictly speaking, a doctor diagnoses it when she has gone 12 months without a period. As the chart shows, it is caused by a reduction in the production of estrogen by the ovaries.
It is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. The chart here depicts symptoms and conditions associated with the change.
Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms and preventing or managing chronic conditions that may occur with aging. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.
Today I want to discuss hormone replacement therapy.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
In simplest terms it is the treatment, not of menopause, but of the symptoms of menopause, caused by dropping estrogen levels. For treatments that are systemic, taken orally or transdermally (that is, a skin patch), they consist of three kinds: estrogen only, a combination of estrogen and progesterone, and, rarely, progesterone only. For treatment of some “local” symptoms, such as vaginal drying, discomfort during intercourse, and some urinary symptoms, a vaginal cream containing estrogen can be effective.
What are the benefits of HRT?
If the dosing is appropriate then the “vasomotor symptoms,” hot flashes and night sweats, will be under control. In addition, because menopause leads to increased cardiovascular disease risk and to bone loss or osteoporosis, treatment can prevent or delay these important diseases and conditions.
What are the risks of HRT?
Unfortunately there is a real increase in the incidence of breast cancer. There have been extensive studies but the most definitive was published in September 2019 by a group from the University of Oxford in England. They found four important findings:
Are there any natural options to HRT?
Yes! You can reduce the frequency and/or severity of the hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms. Here are a few ideas:
And the wrap is…
About Dr. Quay
Steven Quay is the founder of Seattle-based Atossa Genetics Inc. (Nasdaq:ATOS), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics and delivery methods for breast cancer and other breast conditions.
He received his an M.D. and Ph.D. from The University of Michigan, was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT with Nobel Laureate H. Gobind Khorana, a resident at the Harvard-MGH Hospital, and was on the faculty of Stanford University School of Medicine. His contributions to medicine have been cited over 9,600 times.
He has founded six startups, invented seven FDA-approved pharmaceuticals, and holds 87 US patents. Over 80 million people have benefited from the medicines he invented.
His current passion is the prevention of the two million yearly breast cancer cases worldwide.