Dr. Joseph Ragaz, a medical oncologist in the school of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada made a big media splash today with the presentation of non-peer-reviewed data at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.  He presented a re-evaluation of data that was reviewed four years ago from the estrogen-only treatment arm of the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative). Dr. Ragaz reported that “The data show that for selected women estrogen is not only safe but potentially beneficial for breast cancer.”  He added, “Reduction of rates of breast cancer in the majority of women who are candidates for estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy is a new finding because estrogen was always linked with a higher incidence of breast cancer.”

This will certainly cause more confusion for patients. Estrogen alone can be given only to patients who have had the uterus surgically removed, since it is well known that without a progestin, estrogen promotes endometrial cancer. I assume that most women wouldn’t choose to have a hysterectomy in order to take estrogen.

Scientists and physicians will need to evaluate his  hypothesis that the estrogen made by the post menopausal woman from conversion of male hormone derived from the ovaries  is carcinogenic and that somehow giving these women estrogen systemically will decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Stay tuned.  No answers yet.