Friday, September 24, 2010

New fears over safety of HRT after research shows withdrawing it from women can cut breast cancer risk

This is sheer speculation: "Scientists found that a decrease in the number of menopausal women taking HRT has coincided with a 10 per cent decrease in cancer rates." There has also been a decline in crime rates over recent years in the USA. Was that caused by women going off HRT? No-one has any certain idea of what is behind such demographic trends so it is just a wild guess to make the connection put forward in the article below

The safety of hormone replacement therapy has been thrown into further doubt after research showed that withdrawing it from women reduced the risk of breast cancer. Scientists found that a decrease in the number of menopausal women taking HRT has coincided with a 10 per cent decrease in cancer rates.

Fears over the treatment's safety were first raised in 2002 when a major U.S. study linked it to breast cancer, heart disease and strokes. It led to thousands of British women abandoning the pills, and within three years the numbers using it had halved to one million. But its link to breast cancer has since been disputed and in 2007 another study found that the risks applied only to those in their 70s and 80s – much older than women who usually take HRT.

Now Canadian researchers have found that the decline in use of HRT prompted by the health scares coincided with a 10 per cent fall in breast cancer rates in their country. They found the biggest decline in use of HRT was between 2002 and 2004, when the proportion of women taking it fell from 12.7 per cent to just 4.9 per cent. Over the same period, the number of breast cancer diagnoses fell by 9.6 per cent.

But the researchers also said that they did not think HRT actually caused breast cancer, it merely encouraged it to develop several years earlier. So women who developed tumours while taking the treatment may well have got them anyway.

The study found that the cancer rates began to rise again in 2005, suggesting that women who did not have HRT had postponed breast cancer by two or three years.

Dr Pritwash De, from the Canadian Cancer Society said: 'The nearly 10 per cent drop in invasive breast cancer incidence rate coincided with the decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy reported among Canadian women aged 50–69 years. 'The tandem drop in breast cancer incidence and use of hormone replacement therapy is a phenomenon that has been reported internationally.

'The results support the hypothesised link between the use of hormone replacement therapy and invasive breast cancer incidence and indicate that the sharp decline in breast cancer incidence in 2002 is likely explained by the concurrent decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy among Canadian women.

'To our knowledge, this is the first Canadian study to examine the link between population- level declines in the use of hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer incidence among post-menopausal women.'

HRT is usually prescribed to women in their 50s to treat the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes, and it can also protect the bones.

Around 2.6million women in Britain are currently prescribed the treatment, which can be taken via a range of methods, including tablets, implants, skin gels and patches. This number has fallen from 6.2million in 2001, before the breast cancer study was published.


Breast milk no better than formula, says Norwegian Professor

Wicked Professor refuses to accept that correlation is causation -- points to third factor involvement

BREAST milk was no better for a baby than formula, a European pregnancy expert has said, claiming it made a child only slightly healthier.

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper has reported that Norwegian professor Sven Carlsen this week said breast-fed babies were slightly healthier, but it was not the milk that made the difference. Instead, he said, babies who were breast-fed had benefited from better conditions in the womb.

The professor, an expert in the hormonal changes of pregnancy, claimed: "Baby formula is as good as breast milk."

The bold statement is likely to reignite debate over whether "breast is best" and will possibly confuse mothers who are under pressure from Britain's Department of Health to feed their babies on breast milk alone for the first six months of life. Britain's National Health Service leaflets tell mothers that breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months will help prevent obesity, eczema and ear, chest and tummy bugs.

Avoiding formula, they are told, will cut the odds of a child becoming a fussy eater, as well as cut the mother's odds of some cancers and help with weight loss.

Prof Carlsen's claim came after he carried out a review of more than 50 studies into the relationship between health and breastfeeding. Most concluded that the longer a child was nursed, the healthier it would be.

The professor said while this might be true, it was because of a healthier pregnancy. His research shows that high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the womb affect a woman's ability to produce milk and to breastfeed.

With testosterone levels affected by the health of the placenta, which ferries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, the professor believes high amounts indicate poorer conditions in the womb overall. This means any differences in the health of a baby bottle-fed because its mother finds breastfeeding difficult are set before birth, rather than afterwards.

But a spokeswoman for England's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Charlotte Wright, said the claims were "irresponsible and overblown". "Women should remember that we were not designed to be bottle-fed," she said. "Formula is an artificial alternative."


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