HRT May Make Lung Cancer More Deadly
News coming out of a US federal study of hormone replacement therapy has raised another caution. The use of the therapy may make lung cancer more deadly. The study did not show that users developed lung cancers more often, but that for those unfortunate to develop it, they were much more likely to die from it.
HRT started to attract greater attention in the late 1990s when it was linked to an increase in breast cancers. Until then, it was routinely offered to post menopausal women as a way to help with menopausal symptoms and to maintain female hormone levels.
Hormone users who developed lung cancer were more than twice as likely to die from the disease as women who weren't taking hormones, according to results reported Saturday.
The new findings mean that smokers should stop taking hormones, and those who have not yet started hormones should give it careful thought, said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He led the analysis and presented results at a meeting of the oncology society in Florida.
The new analysis looked at non-small-cell lung cancer, by far the most common type. It found no big difference in the number of lung cancers that developed in hormone users after five years on the pills and more than two years of followup.
However lung cancer proved fatal in 46 percent of hormone users who developed it versus 27 percent of those given dummy pills.
Researchers have not yet analyzed lung cancer risk in another part of the federal study that tested estrogen alone without progestin.
Lung cancer is the world's top cancer killer. In the United States, there were more than 215,000 new cases and nearly 162,000 deaths from it last year.
Researchers cautioned against using HRT if the client also uses tobacco.