Health Magazine

DisturbingTrend Among Women Who Stopped Hormone Replacement Therapy

Posted on the 22 September 2011 by Jean Campbell

HRTFor many years Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT) was touted as the way to cope with the side effects of menopause until research findings concerning the link between HRT and breast cancer were made public.

This year, Nancy Breen, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md. and colleagues reported online in Cancer that, among women between  the ages of 50 to 64 years,  there was a drop in mammograms rates after they stopped taking HRT. Yet, there was no association in mammography screening rates and HRT in women 65 years and older.

Researchers reported that In 2005, mammography rates in the U.S. dropped for the first time among eligible women. The increased risk of cancer related to HRT detected in the Women’s Health Initiative was reported just three years earlier, in 2002, leading to a significant decline in use by 2005.

The researchers looked at data from the 2000 and 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) on over 14,000 patients to determine if there was a relationship between the decline in HRT and the decline in screening mammography.

They found that women, ages 50 to 64, were more likely to report a recent screening mammogram if they had higher levels of education; had a usual source of care; were covered by private health insurance; were any race except Asian; talked with a doctor in the last year; or were currently on HRT.

Women 65 and older were more likely to report having been screened if they were  65 to 74 years; had more education; had a usual source of care; were on Medicare Part B or another supplemental Medicare insurance; were in excellent health; were any race except Asian; had spoken with their doctor in the last year; or were currently taking HRT.

Researchers felt that screening likely declined because women on HRT needed to consult their physicians to renew their prescriptions; doctors, in turn, probably used that consultation to talk about the benefits of screening mammography. Fewer visits led to fewer opportunities for discussion.

While it is good that so many women have stopped taking HRT, what is alarming is they are skipping out on annual screenings in the years that carry the highest risk for breast cancer.

Source reference:
Breen N, et al “Was the drop in mammography rates in 2005 associated with the drop in hormone therapy use?” Cancer 2011

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