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Breast cancer rates have stopped falling: US study

Breast cancer rates among U.S. white women have stopped falling, U.S. researchers said yesterday.

Breast cancer rates among U.S. white women have stopped falling, U.S. researchers said yesterday, suggesting that the fallout from a 2002 study linking hormone replacement therapy to breast cancer was short-lived.

They said breast cancer rates among white women fell 7 percent in 2003, a year after a study showed taking hormone replacement therapy raised the risk of breast cancers in older women.

But those declines stabilized between 2003 and 2007, said Carol DeSantis, a researcher at the American Cancer Society.

“We have fully felt the effects of the Women’s Health Initiative study, and now rates have leveled off,” DeSantis said.

Sales of U.S. market leader Wyeth’s combined estrogen-plus-progesterone pill Prempro have fallen by about 50 percent from 2001 just before of the study were released. The study prompted women to stop using the therapy.

DeSantis and colleagues studied data on invasive breast cancers between 2000-2007. They found the sharp drop in breast cancer in white women between 2002 and 2003 did not continue from 2003 to 2007 — the most recent year for which data is available.

There was no steep drop in cancer rates among black and Hispanic women in the 2002 to 2003 period, and there have been no significant changes in those groups in the 2003 to 2007 period, the team said.

DeSantis said breast-cancer rates rose in the 1980s and ‘90s as more women got mammograms. Rates also rose as hormone replacement therapy became popular as a treatment for menopause symptoms.

But rates among white women reversed in 2002 after the WHI study showed women who took estrogen plus progesterone had higher rates of ovarian and breast cancers, plus other health problems.

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