Short-term hormone therapy raises ovarian cancer risk

Researchers say these findings will have implications for international guidelines on Hormone Replace Therapy

Published: Monday 16 February 2015


Women who use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for menopause are 40 per cent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who have never taken HRT, according to a study published in The Lancet. The study was conducted by Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer, organised by Oxford University, and involved more than 100 researchers from around the world.

It found that of 12,110 postmenopausal women who developed ovarian cancer, 55 per cent had used hormone therapy.

“The definite risk of ovarian cancer even with less than 5 years of HRT is directly relevant to today’s patterns of use—with most women now taking HRT for only a few years—and has implications for current efforts to revise UK and worldwide guidelines,” said co-author Valerie Beral from Oxford's Cancer Epidemiology Unit.

An article in The Lancet says that existing World Health Organization, US and European HRT guidelines make no mention of ovarian cancer. As of now, UK guidelines state that ovarian cancer risk rises with long-term use. 

The study found that those women who had discontinued HRT less than five years earlier had a significantly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. While the risk diminished with the passage of time, those women who had taken HRT still had an increased chance of getting ovarian cancer 10 years later.


Menopausal hormone use and ovarian cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies

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