New research shows a sharp drop in U.S. breast cancer cases in recent years was limited to white women, possibly because they abandoned hormone replacement therapy in greater numbers than minority groups.
Many women stopped using hormone replacement therapy after a large study suggested in 2002 that the combination of estrogen and progestin used to treat menopause symptoms raised the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
White women had been more likely to use hormone therapy, and were also the most likely to abandon the drugs after U.S. regulators warned about the cancer link in 2003, according to Dr. Dezheng Huo of the University of Chicago and the study’s lead investigator.
“The sharp reductions seen in Caucasians aged 50 to 69 years were not seen among other ethnic groups,” Hou [Dr. Dezheng Huo of the University of Chicago and the study’s lead investigator.] told the American Association for Cancer Research.
According to the American Cancer Society, the overall incidence of female breast cancer fell 3.9 percent a year from 2001 through 2004.
The researchers said the decline has been mainly among women older than 50 with estrogen-receptor positive cancer.