It is hard to get exact figures, but it seems that there are more than one million women in Britain taking HRT, and an estimated one million who have stopped taking HRT in recent years, because of health fears.
This may be why doctors are now prescribing it less and limiting its use to 5-6 years.
What caused this fall?
So what caused that drop of 50 per cent in taking HRT? It seems this is what John Lee described as women ‘voting with their bodies’ rather than the medical profession prescribing less.
A study undertaken in 2009 at Stanford University in California found that women who take HRT for more than five years double their risk of suffering breast cancer for every 12 months they spend taking it.
Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease diagnosed in women in Britain and one in nine women will develop the disease at some form in their life. More than 45,000 cases are diagnosed every year and about 15,000 women die from the cancer, although survival rates have increased significantly in recent years.
However, the good news is that within a year of stopping HRT the risk of developing breast cancer was almost back to normal. This was not a small scale study either, unlike the original research on HRT, as more than 57,0000 women were studied which enabled the research team to say conclusively that there was very strong evidence that HRT causes breast cancer.
Oestrogen is linked to breast and other hormone cancers, so keeping it in balance with progesterone – which opposes it – makes perfect sense. A healthy lifestyle that includes stress reduction, exercise and a good diet are all important, but if you are oestrogen dominant that can be another risk factor for heart disease and stroke as well as breast cancer.