The data was obtained from individual participants of 52 different studies. The participants were post menopausal women with ovarian cancer. The socio-demographic, reproductive history and hormone use of postmenopausal women with ovarian cancer was individually analyzed and compared to postmenopausal women without ovarian cancer. The purpose of this study was to analyze the data to help answer the question:
Does menopausal hormone therapy use increase the risk of ovarian cancer?
Data from 21,488 postmenopausal women with ovarian cancer was analyzed. Approximately half of the women with ovarian cancer had used hormone therapy.
The results showed:The relative risk of ovarian cancer was greater in women who had "ever used" hormone therapy compared to those who had "never used" hormone therapy.
- The relative risk of ovarian cancer was greater in women who had "ever used" hormone therapy compared to those who had "never used" hormone therapy.
- Among current or recent hormone therapy users, the relative risk of ovarian cancer was increased with both the use of estrogen only and estrogen-progesterone therapy.
- In ex-users, the relative risk of ovarian cancer decreased the longer ago the hormone therapy had ended.
- Age at initiation of hormone therapy, ethnicity, family history of breast or ovarian cancer reportedly did not affect findings- meaning that when two comparable women were analyzed, a higher relative risk for ovarian cancer was seen with the woman who was using or had used hormone therapy.
Putting this into perspective, the relative increase in risk would not represent a large increase in the number of affected women because ovarian cancer is a relatively infrequent cancer. Listed below are the most recently reported cancer rates per 100,000 women living in the USA:
(1999-2011 Cancer Incidence and Mortality Data.CDC,2014 )
- Breast cancer - 122
- Lung cancer - 52
- Colo-rectal cancer - 34.9
- Ovarian cancer - 11.3
There was insufficient information to asses whether the increased risk with hormone therapy varied by hormone therapy formulation. There was no reference to bio-identical hormone use. This is an interesting topic since many women believe that compounded bio-identical hormones are safer.
In this analysis menopausal hormonal therapy is associated with an increased relative risk of ovarian cancer. Yet birth control pills which are also hormone pills reportedly lower a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. The current study is an thought provoking and provides important information for all women to consider. We have much to learn. Further studies are warranted.
Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer. "Menopausal Hormone Use and ovarian cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies"