A study has found that using hormone replacement therapy for any length of time cut the risk of distal colon cancer in half. The distal part of the colon is closest to the rectum. The longer women took hormone therapy, the greater the reduced risk. The study involved a comparison of 443 with distal colon cancer and 405 healthy women.
After the results of the Women's Health Initiative appeared in 2002, hormone replacement therapy prescriptions plunged by at least 50%. That study found the drugs can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Colon cancer rates in women have been on the decline for much longer. But whether the rates of distal colon cancer in women will rise now that hormone therapy is out of favor is a reasonable question, said the authors, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
"Much of the reduced incidence of distal large bowel cancer observed in the past two decades may have been partially related to long-term hormone replacement therapy use that is no longer recommended based on the risk-benefit ratio observed in the [Women's Health Initiative,]" they wrote.
The study was released in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.