Estrogen-only therapy may not up lung cancer deaths


By Frederik Joelving

NEW YORK | Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:57pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who use estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy don’t appear to be at increased risk of dying from lung cancer.

That’s according to a new analysis of earlier data from postmenopausal women who had had their uterus removed (hysterectomy).

Previous studies of women with intact uteruses had shown that taking combined estrogen and progestin — a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone — raised the chances of dying from lung cancer (see Reuters Health story of September 21, 2009).

Estrogen alone, however, resulted in only one more lung cancer death than placebo pills over nearly eight years, Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, and colleagues reported Friday.

Overall, the researchers calculated that eight in 10,000 women would die from lung cancer every year, regardless of whether they took estrogen or placebo pills.

“These findings should be reassuring for women with previous hysterectomy, who use estrogen alone” for menopause symptoms, they write in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) remains the most effective therapy for menopausal symptoms like severe hot flashes and night sweats and has been shown to preserve women’s bone mass.

But millions of women stopped using it after a large U.S. government study in 2002 found that postmenopausal women given estrogen-plus-progestin had higher risks of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots than women given a placebo.

“…Sometimes hormones are a great idea and sometimes they are not, so for most women I try to reassure them at first that we are very likely to be able to help reduce symptoms, but that some trial and error may be necessary.”

And don’t forget it is our body’s that they do the trial and error on.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.