Putting Breast Cancer Risk Into Perspective

In our last blog, we mentioned the many benefits of estrogen. This week we will address one of the main concerns women have when considering menopausal hormone therapy (MHT): breast cancer. Dr Robert Reid (Queen’s University in Kingston) spoke at the International Menopause Society Meeting in Vancouver in June. He helped put the risk of breast cancer into perspective.

This risk is thought to be insignificant in the first 5 years of hormone use. When compared to other lifestyle risks such as: being overweight, stress, smoking, alcohol use, late menopause, not having children, and not breast feeding, MHT has the lowest risk. If the use of MHT provides benefits such as reducing hot flashes or improving sleep and mood, then stress will be greatly reduced which can reduce the risk for breast cancer. The most significant risk a woman has once reaching menopause is heart disease. More women die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined; when started within the first 10 years of menopause, hormone therapy has a heart protective effect.

Each woman needs to be assessed for individual risks when deciding if MHT is appropriate. A 10-year Danish registry of patients showed that women using hormone therapy had fewer causes of death than those who did not use MHT. Something to seriously consider…


Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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