This week has been about reassuring women who are newly starting HRT. This is to confirm that the recent study plucked from the Lancet by the Guardian does not tell us anything that we don’t already know about HRT. We all experience the benefits of HRT and they are proven. These benefits far outweigh potential risks. The slight associated (note not causal) increase in the risk of breast cancer has been known for ever. This covers all forms of prescribed HRT. Other factors, such as obesity, alcohol and smoking for example, increase this risk far more.
With regards to women coming in for their HRT reviews there was no noticeable panic! They said that the difference HRT had made to their quality of life is what mattered most to them. ‘We understand’, they said, ‘that breast cancer is a very common cancer irrespective of these reports and that the best thing we can do to help early detection, is to check our breasts regularly and have our mammogram on time’. I was reassured to hear that they knew the facts and the truth behind them.
Studies get published in medical journals and the medical professional and epidemiologists will scrutinise them as soon as they can. However, it’s become commonplace for newspapers to be the first to sensationalise articles before an expert has even expressed an opinion.
It is not fair to confuse women. We have suffered enough with the two massive, but rather flawed, studies about HRT in 2003. These also made the front page of the newspapers before the experts could express an opinion. When the studies were analysed, the conclusions drawn did not add up. So, to put the record straight, it took us nearly 12 years before the NICE guidance was finally published in 2015.
Please go only to your doctor or menopause expert for advice about your hormone therapy.