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HRT link to ovarian cancer

19th April 2007

New research has shown women who take HRT have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

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The Million Women study, funded by Cancer Research UK, is the world's largest study into the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The study of 948,576 post-menopausal women found the use of HRT may have brought about 1,000 deaths from ovarian cancer between 1991 and 2005. Women using HRT were 20% more likely to develop and die from ovarian cancer than women who had never taken it. HRT was also shown to increase the incidence of breast and womb cancer.

The study's lead researcher, Professor Valerie Beral, stated: "The results of this study are worrying because they show that, not only does HRT increase the risk of getting ovarian cancer, it also increases a woman's risk of dying of ovarian cancer."

"This study, along with our previous research, clearly demonstrates the cancer risks of taking HRT."

In 2002, an American trial of 16,000 women was stopped abruptly when researchers found a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, heart problems and stroke in HRT users. Data from the Million Women study, published in 2003, showed the risk of breast cancer was doubled among those women taking HRT. Consequently, according to GP data, the number of women using HRT fell from two million in 2002 to one million in 2005.

A spokesman from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told the BBC the new data was being examined, but that HRT remained an effective treatment. He stated: "Any woman on HRT who is concerned should discuss her need to continue treatment with her doctor."

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