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Study Finds Hormone Therapy Increases Risk of Ovarian Cancer

According to a recent study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who use hormone therapy after menopause may be at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

The researchers studied 909,946 Danish women, ages 50 to 79. Overall, 3,068 women developed ovarian cancer, and, of those, 2,681 were epithelial, the most common type of ovarian cancer. Current hormone users were 38% more likely to develop ovarian cancer and 44% more likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer, in particular, than women who had never used hormones. Women who had stopped taking hormones at some point in the previous two years had a 22% higher ovarian cancer risk.

The risk remains elevated for up to two years after women stop taking estrogen, and, even a relatively short duration of hormone therapy is associated with a 30% to 40% higher risk of ovarian cancer in current users.

Hormone therapy has been linked to health hazards in the past, including an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and blood clots in their lungs and legs. 

Although a couple of large studies have also suggested that hormone therapy can increase ovarian cancer risk, it seemed as if only long-term use was the culprit and that short-term use was OK. However, the new study suggests otherwise.


There is no early screening test to detect ovarian cancer when it is in its most treatable stages, and its symptoms are vague.  As a result, ovarian cancer is usually detected after it has spread outside the ovaries.