Declines in breast cancer after the WHI: apparent impact of hormone therapy
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Large numbers of US women stopped taking hormone therapies (HT), especially estrogen/progestin (EP) formulations, after the Women’s Health Initiative trial detected elevated risks of breast cancer in EP users and was halted in July 2002. Recent reports have indicated substantial and significant declines in population-based breast cancer incidence, particularly hormone-sensitive forms, for 2003 and 2004. Are these events linked? This commentary considers the available evidence linking the mass cessation of HT in 2002 to the breast cancer incidence declines of 2003/2004 and quantifies the potential impact of the cessation on the overall burden of breast cancer in the US.
KeywordsBreast cancer Incidence time trends Hormone therapy Estrogen/progestin Population attributable fraction
The authors acknowledge Drs. Marcia Stefanick, Alice Whittemore, and Giske Ursin for their helpful comments. The collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Health Services as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract N01-PC-35136 awarded to the Northern California Cancer Center, contract N01-PC-35139 awarded to the University of Southern California, and contract N02-PC-15105 awarded to the Public Health Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, under agreement U55/CCR921930-02 awarded to the Public Health Institute. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and endorsement by the State of California, Department of Health Services, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their contractors and subcontractors is not intended nor should be inferred. Dr. Clarke has served as an expert witness for plaintiff lawyers preparing hormone therapy litigation.
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