Week 20 – Hormones and Cancer

Week 20: Hormones and Cancer

1. Is the oral contraceptive Pill associated with Cancer?

Yes and no. The progesterone component seems to protect against cancer of the ovary and womb, reducing the risk by up to 50%. It also protects against bowel cancer. However, due to the oestrogen component, there is a slightly increased risk of breast, and in patients with a strong family history of breast cancer should therefore use the low oestrogen pill, if at all.

2. Is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) associated with cancer?

Yes. The prolongation of a usual lifetime exposure to oestrogen post menopause increases the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer is doubled in those taking HRT compared to those who do not, particularly if the Combined (oestrogen and progesterone) HRT is taken, as opposed to the Oestrogen only HRT.

The The Million Women Study published in 2003 confirmed these risks, but also showed other health benefits from HRT, such as reduced heart disease and reduced osteoporosis.

3. Is testosterone associated with any cancers? If so, which?

Yes. Prostate cancer is driven by testosterone, and indeed before medical therapies were available castration was a treatment used. Now androgen blockade with cyproterone acetate or bicalutamide is used, plus or minus gonadorelin analogues such as zoladex. This article discusses testosterone and prostate cancer further.

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