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Postmenopausal hormone therapy and the risk of breast cancer: a contrary thought

Speroff, Leon MD

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31812f7b55
Personal Perspective

The most important unanswered question regarding postmenopausal hormone therapy and the risk of breast cancer is whether hormone therapy initiates the growth of new breast cancers or whether the epidemiologic data reflect a hormonal impact on preexisting tumors. In this perspective I review the evidence favoring hormonal effects on preexisting tumors and suggest that exposure to combined estrogen and progestin is beneficial, causing greater differentiation and earlier detection of breast cancers.

The epidemiologic data on postmenopausal hormone therapy and the risk of breast cancer may reflect effects on preexisting tumors. It is possible that exposure to a combination of estrogen and progestin causes greater differentiation of preexisting tumors with earlier detection and better outcomes.

From the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR.

Received March 2, 2007; revised and accepted May 30, 2007.

Financial disclosure: Dr. Speroff is a consultant for Warner-Chilcott.

Address correspondence to: Leon Speroff, MD, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239. E-mail:

©2008The North American Menopause Society