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Estrogen alone not to blame in HRT

Hormone may work with progestin, genetics to raise disease risk

Tabitha M. Powledge
Exogenous estrogen by itself does not raise the risk of breast cancer among women who have had a hysterectomy, and appears to even reduce the risk of some types of the disease, according to findings from the Women's Health Initiative released in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week. The authors suggest that progestin -- a synthetic progesterone already blamed for a number of diseases -- may be the culprit in the increase in cancer rates following hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that combines estrogen and progestin.Wulf Utian, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, who did not participate in the research, suggested the increase in breast cancer following HRT may relate to timing of mitotic activity triggered by progestin, which normally takes place only in the latter half of the menstrual cycle. Alternatively, WHI project officer Jacques Rossouw, of the National Heart, Blood, and Lung...

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