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Statement from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on the recent Lancet publication regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

The important message is that the findings of the study do not change current NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) relating to HRT and they do not warrant sudden cessation of HRT by any woman.

The review included information from 58 studies of postmenopausal women conducted over 25 years and compared rates of diagnosis only, not number of deaths due to breast cancer.

HRT is already known to cause a small increase in risk of diagnosis of breast cancer in a postmenopausal woman equivalent to 1 in 50 women. The risk varies depending on type of preparation. Local vaginal oestrogen does not appear to add to risk.

The background risk of breast cancer for women between 50 – 60 years of age is 23 cases per 1000. For women who use HRT this changes to 27 per 1000. It is important to consider other significant factors which increase breast cancer risk including obesity and alcohol intake.  

Women who take HRT do so to alleviate significant symptoms and effects of the menopause which for many can be debilitating. The decision to commence HRT and the length of treatment should be individualised bearing in mind its protective effects with regard to osteoporosis and cardiac disease.

For most women, HRT is a safe and effective treatment for the management of symptoms of menopause.


Yvonne McCahill

Press Officer, Communications Department

Tel: Mobile 086 7723056

For general press enquiries or if you want to speak to a trusted medical expert, contact Yvonne in our Communications Department.