Does Hormone Therapy Cause Cancer?

Bottom line…NO! 

There is no medical evidence that natural, bio-identical hormone therapy in women and men will cause or induce cancer.

So, where does this myth or falsehood come from?

The problem arises from the use of synthetic or chemically altered hormones which have been shown to have deleterious effects including increasing cancer risk.

Allow us to clarify:

“Fear of breast cancer is the strongest factor limiting postmenopausal hormone use. The most powerful study to date definitively demonstrated that estrogen does not cause an increase risk for cancer. The increased risk was associated only with taking the progestin (Provera®) and not estrogen.” JAMA 2004;291(24): 2947-2958.

There is a drastic gap in communication between the hormone replacement therapy studies that have been conducted, and what’s been reported in the news. Synthetic hormones were used in the highly publicized Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and are still in use and referred to in studies today. Many news articles and reports reference the WHI report because it was such a large/ highly funded study. These reports have been misleading consumers to believe that all types of hormone therapy are harmful. Let’s take a look at an example of this from a CNN report:

Synthetic vs. Bioidentical Mis-Communication

“In 2002, one arm of a large U.S. study – the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) – set out to confirm that hormone replacement therapy helps prevent heart disease. It was halted when it was discovered that women in the study taking estrogen plus progesterone actually had an increased risk for invasive breast cancer, blood clots, strokes and heart disease after about five years.  While combination hormones showed some benefits including reduced hip fractures and colon cancer, the researchers determined that “harm was greater than the benefit.”

Provera Is Now Banned

This article leads you to believe that hormone replacement therapy is bad, and can result several deleterious effects possibly leaving you with a great deal of trepidation towards seeking hormone therapy.  However, this is an excellent depiction of the miscommunication that takes place around hormone replacement therapy.  The author of this article writes that patients were provided “estrogen and progesterone” hormones. However, this is not necessarily correct. If we take the time to read the WHI study, we find that patients were not taking progesterone, but instead received a progestin called Provera.  In short, Provera has been banned in several countries for its carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects. Therefore, it is no wonder that the use of Provera resulted in an increased risk in breast cancer in this study.

Horse Urine

This CNN article also references estrogen, but does not inform the reader that the estrogen given, conjugated horse urine, is natural to horses and not humans. Last of all, Participants the WHI study were taking hormone replacement therapy orally.

Taking hormone replacement therapy orally can cause liver damage and increase the risk of stroke and blood clots, while other methods of delivery do not. Therefore, the results are much different from those of individuals taking natural bioidentical hormones with a different method of delivery. What we are really referring to is a matter of semantics. Terms such as bioidentical, estrogen, and progesterone are often lumped into categories when in actuality we are comparing very different items. This process of “generalizing” leads to the misinformation we see in the aforementioned CNN excerpt.

The WHI study can be summed up in three quotes from the journal of The Female Patient, Family Practice News, and Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

”Because of the design flaws, the WHI trial should be discredited as it used only 2 synthetic hormones that were already known to be harmful. The positive effects of many different hormone methods studied over the last 50 years should not be discounted due to one poorly designed and flawed study (WHI) trial.” Female Patient 2004 Oct;Vol 29:40-46.

“North American Menopausal Society (NAMS) position statement: The WHI results do not apply to the majority of women. The WHI trial does not negate 40 years of study demonstrating HRT benefit. Five recent studies demonstrate overwhelming evidence that HRT prevents atherosclerosis.” Family Practice News 2003 Oct;1-2.

“Estradiol and progesterone demonstrated no increased risk of breast cancer. Synthetic estrogen (Premarin® ) and synthetic progestins (medroxyprogesterone and noresterone) all dramatically increased the risk of breast cancer. This was a ten-year study of over 100,000 women, the largest and longest study to date comparing natural hormones to synthetic hormones”. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2007;101:125-134.

Study Later Explained The Many Benefits Of Hormone Therapy

What’s even more surprising is that a second report from the WHI study, estrogen only hormone therapy, was later released, but not highly publicized? The results indicated that estrogen alone offered many beneficial results.

”In the final analysis of the estrogen only arm of the WHI; there was no increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease. There was a 35% decrease in hip fractures, 35% decrease in diabetes and a 60% decrease in urinary sepsis. This leads to a significant decrease in all causes of mortality. J Gen Internal Medicine 2004;19(7): 791-804

Estrogen, when administered appropriately in a bioidentical form, has been show to protect against heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, memory loss, vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence, and osteoporotic fractures.  Individuals who fall and break their hip have a 50% chance of dying within the next two years!

“Estrogen deficiency greatly increases mortality from cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Over 90% of women will die from cardiovascular disease which estrogen can prevent”. Over 40 years of study have well documented the cardiovascular protective effects of estrogen”. Obstet Gynecol 1996 Jan;87(1):6-12.

“The potential lethal consequences of osteoporosis are overwhelming. Estrogen is protective but only when certain serum levels are maintained.” Female Patient Oct. 2004;Vol. 29:40-46.

Bioidentical Estrogen Decreases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Estrogen also prevents against hot flashes, temperature deregulation, urogenital atrophy, sagging skin and breasts, increased skin wrinkles on face, fatigue, depression, mood swings, and decreased libido.  Recent studies done with bioidentical estrogen hormones have even been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Hormone Therapy Mis-Representation

As  you can see, estrogen deficiency is detrimental to a women’s health and due to the misrepresentation in the media, millions of women have gone untreated and left to suffer the consequences. At Vitali-T Medical Clinics we believe that no individual should be left to suffer. We are dedicated to providing natural, bio-identical hormones and supplements that have gone through are proven to be safe and effective.

For more information on the topics discussed above, please reference our previous blogs and visit our resources page.  You may also contact Vitali-T Medical Clinics if you have any further questions or would like to find out if hormone replacement therapy is right for you.