Factors modifying the association between hormone-replacement therapy and breast cancer risk

Eur J Epidemiol. 2005;20(8):699-711. doi: 10.1007/s10654-005-0032-0.


Objectives: Hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is an established risk factor for breast cancer. HRT users are different from non-users with respect to socio-economic and other characteristics. There may be women where the HRT-related risk could be modulated by other factors.

Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control study with 688 breast cancer cases and 724 controls to characterize HRT users and to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for HRT use and potentially risk modifying factors.

Results: In women aged 50 years and older, 58% of controls and 61% of cases ever used HRT. Among women in natural menopause, HRT use for 10 years and more years was associated with an increased breast cancer risk (OR 1.79, 95% CI, 1.12-2.87), but not among women in surgical menopause (OR 0.61, 95% CI, 0.09-4.17). In the subgroup of women with a positive family history of breast cancer, each year of HRT use increased the risk by 1.22 (95% CI, 1.02-1.47). Another subgroup comprised women with at least 10 diagnostic mammograms (OR 4.04, 95% CI, 1.10-14.81 for using HRT 10 or more years).

Conclusions: Long-term HRT use was associated with a breast cancer risk in women with natural menopause. Our findings suggest that this risk may be increased in women with a positive family history of breast cancer and in women who received frequent diagnostic mammographic screens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors