Current Month 2004
Article Features
  Breast Cancer Rates Differ Within Different Asian American Communities
Botox Could Reduce Pain During Breast Reconstruction
Breast Density, Rapid Tumor Growth Contribute to Mammogram Failure in Women in their Forties
Combination Hormone Therapy Doubles Breast Density and Quadruples Risk of Abnormal Mammograms
Study Examines Breast Density and Second Breast Cancers for Women With DCIS
Timing of DNA Replication May Aid in Cancer Detection
Study Finds Ductal Lavage May Not Detect Breast Cancer
Exercise Boosts Recovery From Breast Cancer
Concerns About Fertility Affect Treatment Decisions for Young Breast Cancer Patients
Support Groups Aid Women with Breast Cancer Gene Mutations
Group Therapy Has Benefits But May Not Improve Survival in Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients
Study Examines Reasons for Late Stage Breast Cancers
MR is Better Than Mammography for Detecting Additional Breast Cancers
Evidence Builds for Potential New Cancer Drug Target
Obese Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer Have Lower Survival Than Women of Normal Weight
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy Reduces Radiation Dose to Healthy Breast Tissue
Genetic Alteration Linked to Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Study Suggests Eating More Soy Could Reduce Breast Cancer Spread
Slightly Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke Found with Tamoxifen
Tamoxifen May Have Limited Potential as Initial Breast Cancer Preventive Measure

Hormone Therapy's Effect on Breast Density is Not the Same for All Women

In recent years, scientists have discovered that hormone therapy (HT), specifically estrogen plus progesterone therapy, increases breast density, a change that makes it harder to detect breast cancer on mammograms. But it hasn't been clear whether this increase happens for all women, or whether it differs based on various breast-cancer risk factors, the type of HT a woman uses, and the length of time she takes it.

A new study, conducted by Erin Aiello, MPH, and colleagues at Group Health Cooperative's Center for Health Studies, examined the link between HT and breast density among women in a broad range of categories. Her study found:

  • Estrogen-only therapy is associated with a small increase in breast density; however, the increase is not as large as the increase in women taking HT with progesterone.
  • Longer duration of HT use and older age at first use increase breast density, regardless of the type of HT a woman takes.
  • Body Mass Index (BMI), race, age at first menstruation, and family history of breast cancer do not appear to affect the link between breast density and hormone therapy use.
  • Use of HT appears to eliminate the known protective effects against breast density that certain characteristics have-namely, older age, having one or more children, and being older at the birth of a first child. This association was strongest among current users of estrogen plus progestin (vs. estrogen only).

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