There's more troubling news about hormone therapy for menopause symptoms: Lung cancer seems more likely to prove fatal in women who are taking estrogen-progestin pills, a study suggests.
Hormone users who developed lung cancer were more than twice as likely to die from the disease as women who weren't taking hormones, according to results reported Saturday.
The new findings mean that smokers should stop taking hormones, and those who have not yet started hormones should give it careful thought, said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He led the analysis and presented results at a meeting of the oncology society in Florida.
It's the latest finding from the Women's Health Initiative, a federal study that gave 16,608 women either Prempro or dummy pills. The study was stopped in 2002 when researchers saw more breast cancers in those on Prempro, the estrogen-progestin pill made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. They continue to follow what happens to women in the study.
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The new analysis looked at non-small-cell lung cancer, by far the most common type. It found no big difference in the number of lung cancers that developed in hormone users after five years on the pills and more than two years of follow-up.
However lung cancer proved fatal in 46 percent of hormone users who developed it versus 27 percent of those given dummy pills.
“It's another piece of evidence to suggest that hormone replacement therapy should be used with great caution,” said Dr. Richard Schilsky, a cancer specialist at the University of Chicago and president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.