It was disheartening to hear the media make a statement about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) causing more severe cases of breast cancer. That certainly would scare any woman on hormones. They referenced this information from the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Study that also claimed hormones raises the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and thrombophlebitis (blood clots), while preventing osteoporosis and colon cancer. That’s not to say that hormones don’t carry any risk. They absolutely do. But you can’t make a generalized statement about this common form of treating menopausal symptoms and say that these hormones will lead to breast cancer, stroke and blood clots. It’s not that simple. There is accumulating evidence that various estrogen and progesterone products, routes of administration and timing of therapy result in differing benefit-risk profiles.
The WHI study was not about the risks of using HRT as much as it was about the risk of using the specific kind of HRT known as “Prempro”. It’s synthetic estrogen (yes, made from horse urine), combined with the strongest progestin on the planet. It’s also in an oral form, which as we know from oral contraceptives can increase clotting factors in the liver.
There is alot that women can do to determine their risk for breast cancer whether they are on HRT or not. One of the best ways to identify risk is to determine how you are metabolizing (breaking down) estrogen. A good analogy is what we know about measuring cholesterol levels. The total amount of cholesterol doesn’t tell the whole picture of your risk for heart disease. You need to know the “good” and “bad” types of cholesterol. So two people can have the same total cholesterol level, but one may have a very high LDL (bad cholesterol) and the other person, a very low LDL. Their risks would be very different. The tests available to evaluate estrogen metabolites can be ordered by an integrative health practitioner.
Women can also get genetic testing done that will look at genetic mutations specific to the ability to excrete toxins and excess estrogens. The lab that does this testing is “Genova”.
Talk to your practitioner about whether hormones are right for you, and avoid Prempro. There are other safer options for women and with proper monitoring, you can stay proactive in preventing breast cancer.