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HRT linked to ovarian cancer

16 February 2015 09:42

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Women substantially raise their chance of developing ovarian cancer if they are on hormone replacement therapies (HRT), a comprehensive report has found.

Oxford University's study examined 21,000 women across 52 previous analyses as a sample of the 1 million British women thought to be using the menopause-symptom reliever.

What the research found

Hundreds of people could be affected by the link every year, Richard Peto, the report's co-author, told the BBC.

The ovarian cancer risk goes up even for women who undergo the therapy for as little as five years. The good news is the danger lowers once patients are off the medication.

Researchers found women undergoing HRT for a five-year period from about the age of 50 have roughly one additional ovarian cancer for every 1,000 users.

Women who have survived ovarian cancer or are living with the disease can arrange travel insurance for cancer patients.

What the researchers say

Sir Richard's study called for official HRT medical guidelines to be brought up to date. This is being looked into by the relevant authorities.

At it stands, UK guidance, which is coming up for renewal, merely says the danger may be raised if HRT is used long-term, while US, European and WHO HRT guidelines completely ignore any mention of ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer facts

- ovarian cancer is detected in about 7,100 UK women every year

- only four other kinds of cancer are more frequent than that found in the ovaries

- it is most found in people who have had their menopause, usually aged 50-plus

- symptoms can include frequent bloating, eating problems and lower stomach and pelvis pain

The report is published in the Lancet journal.