Quickly, I’ll address right now only the info on breast cancer. I think what’s driving the “repeated headlines” is that researchers are comparing the breast cancer rates when many more women were on HRT (2002) to subsequent years (2003 and 2004) when many women stopped HRT when data was reported from the Women’s Health Initiative study.
Some questions I ask:
1. How significant was the decline in the risk of breast cancer between 2002 and 2004?
2. Is the decline in risk attributable to estrogen?
First, “The Risk”
Because I think every woman should decide the significance of these declines here are some actual numbers I’ve been able to locate about last weeks news. (Abstracted from an AP News article)
In 2002, there were 135 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women reported.
In 2003, there were only 126 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women. As they say and everyone reports, “That is the most significant decline in the breast cancer rate since records have been kept beginning in the 1970s.”
(December 2006 news)
In 2004, again there were 126 cases of breast cancer per 100,000 women. (April 2007 news)
Here’s another way to look at the data. (I translated it into something that helps me better understand the risks/benefits.)
Breast Cancer Incidence—U.S. All Ages
2002: 13.5 cases for every 10,000 women (women still on HRT)
2003: 12.6 cases for every 10,000 women (many women off HRT)
2004: 12.6 cases for every 10,000 women (many women still off HRT)
The widely reported decline in breast cancer roughly equates to approximately 1 less case (13.5 minus 12.6 = .9) of breast cancer for every 10,000 women.
Some may think that’s a significant decline and others not. It really is up to you to decide.
, is the decline attributable to estrogen? I find it doubtful.
As I posted earlier in this thread, the estrogen only study of the WHI demonstrated fewer cases of breast cancer in women who only took estrogen.
The most widely prescribed HRT in the US is a combination of synthetic estrogen and synthetic progesterone. Is it possible this decline in breast cancer (essentially one less case per every 10,000 women) is due to the absence of synthetic progesterone (MPA)? There are some studies that have reported synthetic progesterone increased the risk of breast cancer.
Some women of course do have an increased risk of breast cancer. Here’s a link
to information about the risk of breast cancer. And, here’s a link to the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool
. I think it's a cool tool.
Hope that helps a little bit. I’ll try to find the info about heart disease and stroke to post as well. It's quite confounding and debatable because of the age of the women in the WHI study.