Hormone Replacement Therapy Increases Brain Tumor Risk

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – also referred to estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and menopausal hormone therapy – is typically employed by women wishing to replenish a depleted source of female hormones in hopes of alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.

Menopause is essentially the end-cycle of monthly menstruation, which characteristically occurs in women in midlife – during their late 40s or early 50s – and it signals the end of their reproductively fertile phase. This transition can last for several months or even years and is a consequence of biological aging.

Menopause is more accurately defined as the permanent cessation of the primary functions of the ovaries or the ripening and release of ova and the release of hormones that cause both the creation of the uterine lining, and the subsequent shedding of the uterine lining.

Menopausal symptoms, which can be extreme enough to disrupt everyday activities for some women, can include hot flashes, insomnia, weight-gain, emotional-mood fluctuations, and an increased onset of osteoporosis.

Estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone in combination are supplemented during and after menopause. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that are produced by a woman’s ovaries, WebMD explains.

However, hormone replacement therapy is not without its risks. According to Medline Plus, it can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Certain types of HRT have a higher risk, and each woman’s own risks can vary depending upon health history and lifestyle. Therefore, healthcare providers will often recommend starting out at the lowest dose necessary to achieve the benefits for the shortest duration needed.

Recent research, reported by The Sun, also cautions that HRT can escalate the risk of getting a brain tumor by 30 percent. Scientists from the Danish Cancer Research Center found a link between post-menopausal hormone treatment and meningioma.

Patients taking hormones for extended periods – for at least 10 years – were found to be especially vulnerable by 70 percent.

Meningiomas are a diverse set of tumors arising from the meninges, the membranous layers surrounding the central nervous system. These are the most common type of brain tumor. Although most meningiomas are often found to be benign, 15 percent on average can be malignant and have detrimental, life-threatening side effects.

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