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June 25, 2003

Combined Hormone Therapy and Breast CancerA Single-Edged Sword

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Preventive Medicine (Dr Gann) and Surgery (Dr Morrow), and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (Drs Gann and Morrow), The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 2003;289(24):3304-3306. doi:10.1001/jama.289.24.3304

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial of estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy represents a major landmark in medical research. The study demonstrates that alteration of a woman's basic hormonal physiology over decades in the interest of long-term disease prevention is fraught with hazard.1 The WHI investigators terminated the trial after an assessment of the overall risk-benefit ratio of this combined hormone therapy regimen failed to demonstrate a benefit. A statistically significant 26% increase in breast cancer incidence contributed to the overall negative effect of estrogen plus progestin.1

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