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Long-term Use of Estrogen is Safe Within Limits

By May 10, 2006

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New results from the Harvard University's Nurses' Health Study on the long-term use of estrogen and its relation to a higher risk of breast cancer gives the clearest picture from research done to date.

Since 1976, when New England Journal of Medicine reported that estrogen use raises breast cancer risk, up to April 2006, when the Women's Health Initiative published a report stating that taking estrogen doesn't raise your risk, many of us have been wondering about the safety of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The Nurses' Health Study shows no significant increase in risk of breast cancer risk if estrogen is used for up to 20 years, based on their statistics. However, the study also shows that if used longer than 20 years, your risk will increase by 42 percent.

Like many health issues, this news can't be applied to everyone, because we all have different situations. Limits to the safe use of estrogen therapy depends upon: whether your menopause symptoms are due to removal of ovaries, or to chemotherapy; whether you use estrogen alone, or in combination with progestin; your body weight; your personal history of breast cancer, and how long you may have already been taking estrogen.

May 20, 2006 at 8:52 pm
(1) elizabeth says:

Re: Long term use of estrogen

I used HRT after having my ovaries removed when I was 42. HRT continued until I had my uterus removed about 20 yrs later. Then I went on unoppossed estrogen for about 12 yr. at which time, I got adeno carcinoma of the cervix. I guess there’s no proof. But I’m convinced that being on hormones for about 32 yr had a definite bearing. Comments?

February 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm
(2) Cathy says:

I think it is a quality of life issue and all factors have to be considered. I have osteopenia with small amts of osteoporosis due to low hormone levels. I also have much more energy when on estrogen. Since I have no family history of breast cancer I feel good about taking estrogen while also being vigilent concerning my breast health.

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