A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Orlando, Florida, indicate that hormone therapy taken by women as treatment for the effects of menopause can increase the risk of lung cancer.
The lead author for the study is Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, who was quoted saying that women should not use combined hormone therapy and tobacco at the same time. The data should reportedly serve as a warning for women who continue to take hormones to stop smoking. Dr. Chlebowski also said that for every one hundred women who both underwent hormone therapy and smoked, one avoidable lung cancer death occurred over eight years.
The data analyzed for the study was from Womenâ€™s Health Initiative. Women in the study either took Prempo, a drug which combined estrogen and progestin, or a placebo. The study, however, was discontinued in 2002 due to the fact that it was discovered that the therapy increased the risk for developing breast cancer.
The new study focused on analyzing the occurrence of lung cancer during the five and a half years that the group was either undergoing therapy or taking a placebo until more than two years after.
Occurrence of lung cancer among the estimated 8,000 women who underwent hormone therapy was at 96 cases of non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common type of lung cancer. When compared to the 72 cases that occurred among the women who took placebo, the difference in number was not deemed as significant.
Looking at the number of deaths due to lung cancer, however, there were 67 deaths among hormone users as opposed to 39 deaths among those who were only given placebo, which is statistically significant.
The Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Otis Brawley, reportedly said, though, that due to the fact that there was only a significant difference between the number of deaths and not the number of cases, he was not convinced that the results were not due to chance.