Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Cancer

Written by Dr. Jonathan Peterson, Updated on November 2nd, 2023, Published on June 16th, 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Facts Uncovered

Explore the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and cancer risk. Understand the meaning, potential benefits, and associated risks. Here are some facts that you need to explore to make informed decisions regarding menopausal symptom management and prioritize your health.

What Is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), likewise called postmenopausal hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy, is a guided therapy for relieving standard menopausal symptoms and managing long-term biological transformations resulting from plunging estrogen and progesterone levels in the body.

MHT generally concerns the administration of either isolated estrogen or a mix of estrogen and progestin, a manufactured hormone with identical outcomes to progesterone. For females with a uterus, estrogen plus progestin is generally given to mitigate the chance of endometrial cancer related to estrogen alone. Estrogen alone is devoted to females who have experienced a hysterectomy.

In what ways do the hormones utilized in MHT contrast with the hormones naturally produced by a woman's body?

The hormones used in MHT can emanate from diverse plant and animal origins or be synthesized in a lab. Moreover, their chemical configuration is generally parallel to, though not equivalent to, the hormones innately created by females' bodies.

Products marked as "bio-identical hormones," not endorsed by the FDA, are usually promoted and peddled online without a prescription. Claims implying that these by-products are safer or more naturalistic than FDA-approved hormonal products lack plausible scientific proof. The FDA offers added information about these products on its Menopause page.

What are the impacts of MHT on health?

The effects and risks of hormone replacement therapy comprise:

Hip and vertebral fractures

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can deliver an optimistic impact on bone health by decreasing the threat of hip and vertebral fractures in postmenopausal women.

Estrogen, in particular, allows maintaining bone density and strength, reducing the chance of fractures.

Vaginal bleeding

It is typical for females initiating MHT, particularly during the initial months of therapy, to undergo vaginal bleeding or spotting. This is primarily seen in females who have a uterus and are taking estrogen alone. However, conferring with a healthcare provider to oversee any underlying reasons and provide proper administration is essential.

Urinary incontinence

Some investigations indicate a possible connection between MHT, especially estrogen, and an inflated risk of urinary incontinence. However, the effect on urinary symptoms can differ among people, and further investigation is required to comprehend the underlying mechanisms and elements contributing to this association.


Studies indicate a scarcely elevated chance of dementia in females aged 65 and older who utilize MHT, specifically for an extended period. However, the association between MHT and dementia is complicated and incomplete. It is crucial to examine personal risk aspects and problems with a healthcare expert before starting or resuming MHT.

Stroke, blood clots, and heart attack

Estrogen plus progestin MHT has been related to an expanded risk of stroke, blood clots (such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism), and heart attack. The threat may deviate based on aspects such as age, prevailing health, and the detailed formulation and span of MHT used. Examining individual risk elements and considering the advantages against possible threats with a healthcare provider is essential.

Breast cancer

Long-term usage of compound MHT, especially estrogen plus progestin, has been connected to a narrowly augmented risk of breast cancer. The threat tends to expand with long-term MHT usage but plunges after discontinuation. Routine breast cancer screening and individualized risk appraisal are essential concerns for women utilizing or thinking MHT.

Lung cancer

Proof presents a possible relationship between MHT usage, especially estrogen, and an inflated risk of acquiring lung cancer. Additional investigation is required to demonstrate a more precise interpretation of this association, including possible underlying mechanisms and risk facets.

Colorectal cancer

MHT usage, especially estrogen plus progestin, is believed to be linked with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer. However, the precise mechanisms after this link are not yet completely comprehended, and further investigation is persistent in exploring this potential advantage further.


The overall effect of MHT on mortality rates is complicated and can deviate depending on aspects such as age, term of use, and personal health factors. It is pertinent to have a thorough conversation with a healthcare provider to assess individual risk elements and advantages when thinking about MHT.

As with any medical therapy, the determination to utilize MHT should be individualized and founded on a comprehensive review of an individual's health standing, medical history, and personal preferences. It is necessary to confer with a competent healthcare expert who can furnish personalized recommendations and help consider the possible risks and advantages of MHT in individually specific cases.

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe For Menopausal Women?

The security of MHT hinges on aspects such as personal health, age, span of usage, and the kind of hormones administered. Short-term usage of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptom administration is typically deemed safe and efficacious. The advantages of MHT can offer comfort from hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and enhanced quality of life.

Long-term usage of MHT may be linked with specific risks, like a little inflated chance of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and heart ailment for integrated MHT. Estrogen-only HRT increases the chances of endometrial cancer but does not raise breast cancer risk. The risks and advantages of MHT differ per individual, and a personalized examination by a healthcare specialist is essential.

Periodic monitoring and follow-up evaluations are necessary to guarantee the lasting safety and usefulness of MHT. The determination to utilize MHT should be driven by talking with a healthcare expert, assuming personal medical history, general health, and detailed risk elements. Honest communication with the healthcare provider is vital to consider the possible risks and advantages and make an educated determination regarding MHT.


The determination to employ HRT should be based on a personal rationale, considering individual medical history, risk characteristics, and advantages. Frequent monitoring and direct contact with a healthcare expert are necessary to evaluate HRT's continuous safety and cogency. Eventually, females should converse thoroughly with their healthcare provider and make informed choices regarding menopausal symptom control and all-around health.

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