That’s News

By Steve Barrett
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Study: Many Women Needlessly Avoid Hormone Therapy

Significant numbers of women for whom hormone therapy (HT) poses little risk stopped undergoing or did not initiate HT based on misinterpretations of a 2002 announcement about safety concerns, new research finds.

The rate of women initiating HT was 8.6 percent before the Women’s Health Initiative warning about HT but fell to 2.8 percent afterward. The continuation rate dropped from 84 percent to 62 percent, according to the study, published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.

“Such decreases occurred across a wide range of participant subgroups, including younger women and those with more vasomotor symptoms (VMS) for whom HT provided the greatest relief with the least amount of risk,” notes a news release about the recent findings. “[M]any symptomatic women forgo HT because of concerns about study findings that are not truly applicable to them. This ... includes women aged in their 50s when VMS symptoms, such as hot flashes, are most prevalent, but the risks of HT are lower.”

Quantifying Benefits of Breast Cancer Screening, Treatment

Early breast cancer detection and enhanced treatment saved as many as 614,500 lives from 1989 to 2018, according to a study in Cancer.

Researchers reviewed population data and breast cancer mortality data for U.S. women ages 40 to 84.

“Recent reviews of mammography screening have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, ... downplaying the most important aspect of screening — that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women’s lives,” R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, of the University of Colorado, says in a news release. “Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths.”

Approximately 73 percent of U.S. women over age 40 report undergoing a mammogram during the past two years, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Breast Cancer Linked to Higher AFib Risk

A woman’s risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib) increases significantly after a breast cancer diagnosis, according to a Danish study.

A key risk factor for AFib is inflammation, and researchers involved in the study, published in HeartRhythm, hypothesize that breast cancer-related inflammation may account for the greater risk.

Risk more than doubled for patients younger than age 60 during the six months after a breast cancer diagnosis; it was 80 percent greater for that group from six months to three years after diagnosis.

“Our findings should encourage doctors to focus on the risk of [AFib] in patients with recent breast cancer in order to diagnose and treat as early as possible,” Maria D’Souza, MD, of Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, says in a news release.

At least 2.7 million Americans have AFib, according to the American Heart Association.