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Articles on Breast Health

Breast Cancer Rates Decline as Women Discontinue Synthetics!

We have some EXCELLENT news to share with our visitors to the Progesterone Research Network.

The SEER database of the National Cancer Institute (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) which provides information on cancer statistics announced that breast cancer incidence in the U.S. dropped sharply in 2003.

This sharp decline may largely be due to the fact that millions of older women stopped using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in 2002, according to an analysis done by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

At the 29th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the investigators reported that there was an overall 7 percent relative decline in breast cancer incidence between 2002 and 2003, and that the steepest decline - 12% - occurred in women between ages 50-69 diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive (ER-positive) breast cancer. This is the kind of breast cancer that is dependent on hormones for tumor growth.

The researchers concluded that about 14,000 fewer women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 than in 2002.

Peter Raydin, M.D., Ph.D. a research professor in the Department of Biostatistics at M. D. Anderson, said “Something went right in 2003, and it seems that it was the decrease in the use of hormone therapy…But if it is true, the tumor growth effect of stopping use of HRT is very dramatic over a short period of time.

The study's senior investigator, Donald Berry, Ph.D., said tht at first he was very surprised by both the magnitude of the decline and how rapidly it occurred, but he said "it makes perfect sense" if you consider that use of HRT may be an important contributing factor to breast cancer development.

"Incidence of breast cancer had been increasing in the 20 or so years prior to July 2002, and this increase was over and above the known role of screening mammography," he says. "HRT had been proposed as a possible factor, although the magnitude of any HRT effect was not known. Now the possibility that the effect is much greater than originally thought all along is plausible, and that is a remarkable finding."

The researchers analyzed data from nine regions across the country. They examined rates of breast cancer in the United States from 1990 to the end of 2003 and found that while incidence increased at 1.7% per year from 1990 to 1998, it began to decrease, relative to other years, 1% each year from 1998 to 2002. When that 1% increase was adjusted for age in each of those years, incidence from 1998 to 2002 stayed about the same.

But by the end of 2003, there was a 7%, age-adjusted decrease in the number of breast cancer cases diagnosed. With further analysis, the researchers discovered that decline in incidence was far greater in ER-positive breast cancer (8%) compared to ER-negative breast cancer (4%). And when they looked at women 50-69 years old, the decline in ER-positive cancer was 12%, compared to 4%t in ER-negative breast cancers. After adjusting for age, the researchers concluded that there was an absolute decline of about 14,000 fewer women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 than in 2002.

The researchers concluded that the cause of this dramatic drop was that 50% of women on HRT went off of it in 2002 after learning the results of the Women’s Health Initiative study which showed that a combination of estrogen and progestins increased the risk of breast cancer.

The study was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and from M. D. Anderson.

The reason the figures come from the year 2003 is that the Center wants to check and double-check its figures and it takes 3 years to do it properly. Results from 2004 will be announced soon. We look for the breast cancer rate to decline even further.

Note: As more and more women started discontinuing their synthetic HRT, the drug companies, losing so much revenue, began to attack progesterone creams. Lobbyists for makers of synthetic hormones asked the FDA to disallow progesterone to be sold over the counter. So many women wrote to their congressmen and women that this seems to have stopped any FDA action to date. Secondly, the drug companies are pushing for legislation that would deter compounding pharmacies from blending bio-identical hormones for women.

We will keep you posted!


Decline in Breast Cancer Cases Likely Linked to Reduced Use of Hormone Replacement M. D. Anderson News Release 12/14/06