“It’s really powerful and compelling evidence,” Manson said.
Breast cancer also appeared to be less common in women who’d taken estrogen than among those on dummy pills. An editorial accompanying the study notes that those findings contrast with many studies linking estrogen pills with an increased breast cancer risk.
Andrea LaCroix, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said it’s possible that estrogen didn’t have a harmful effect on breast tissue in women studied because they were taken well after menopause when women’s naturally occurring estrogen levels have declined.
Dr. Graham Colditz, a Washington University researcher who co-wrote the editorial, noted that duration of estrogen use as directed was pretty short during the study, averaging about 3 1/2 years, and most women started taking the hormone years after a hysterectomy or after menstrual periods ended.
“The results really don’t directly translate to how we see women getting hormone therapy in the real world of current American medicine,” Colditz said.
Women’s Health Initiative: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/
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