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Ovarian Cancer Death Risk Up for 10-Year Estrogen Users

March 26, 2001|From Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Women who take the hormone estrogen for 10 years or more after menopause substantially increase their risk of dying of ovarian cancer compared with women who do not take the hormone, according to a study released Tuesday.

In the American Cancer Society study of more than 211,000 post-menopausal women, those with any history of using hormone replacement therapy had a somewhat higher death rate from ovarian cancer than nonusers. But risk was highest for those who had taken estrogen for a decade or more, especially among recent users.

"The study's very compelling because of its size and its prospective nature," said James Lacey, an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute. The study was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Ovarian cancer is rare, however, in most cases, the tumor has spread by the time it is detected. In the United States, ovarian cancer kills about 14,000 women annually.

Researchers found that women who had been taking estrogen for 10 or more years had more than twice the death rate from ovarian cancer seen in women who had not taken the hormone. Among former users who had taken estrogen for a decade or longer, the death rate was 1.6 times that seen in nonusers.

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