I worry about getting cancer. All. The. Time.
A bit of family history for you; My paternal grandfather died of Tracheal cancer, my paternal grandmother died of Ovarian cancer, my maternal grandmother is battling both Breast and Colon cancer, I have lost several great Aunt and Uncles all to Lung, Breast, Pancreatic, and Bone cancers.
There is a lot of controversy around HRT (hormone replacement therapies) and the increased risk of Cancer, so it took me a long time to agree to go on one. Here is the reasons I chose to start an HRT, and why I feel ok about my decision. [This is what works for me, and what I have research and talked to my Endocrinologist about. If you are under 50 and considering an HRT, please consult your physician and specialists, do your own research and make a decision that is best for you. I am not a doctor, and this blog is not meant to be taken as medical advice.]
The long story short. Yes, your risk of cancer is increased. But not any more than if you were on the contraceptive pill. And not any more than being pregnant. And not any more than IVF. These days it seems like everything is a increased risk, so I took into consideration how my body feels on and off my HRT to influence my decision.
There are two types of HRT. Estrogen Therapy and Combination Therapy (estrogen + progesterone), and I am on a combination therapy. An increase in estrogen, and/or having too much estrogen can result in an increase risk of uterus (endometrial) cancer. For women that have had a hysterectomy, an Estrogen therapy can be ok, but for women in pre-menopause or with Premature Ovarian Failure, it is not recommended to go on an Estrogen-only therapy because of this. Side note: also the reason that women on an HRT should avoid soy products! By using a Combination Therapy, the progesterone lowers the risk of endometrial cancer back to normal (yes, there is always a risk!) There is also an increase risk of breast cancer, and a higher chance it is not discovered until a more progressed stage, but this is usually a result of the density of your breast changing. So my view is yes, there is an increased risk, but I can choose to take control of mitigating those risks by being on top of my health and exams. Before I started my HRT, I consulted my doctor and we talked about yearly mammograms, ultrasounds and blood work to make sure I am staying on top of any early signs of cancer.
So what benefits do I get from being on a HRT. For starters I am crazy without it. No really. I have massive mood swings, depression, anger and can be very emotional when I am not on it. I feel like my brain is working in overtime, I am anxious, stressed and worry a lot. Being on a HRT balances me out and makes me feel normal, and for me, that is a huge benefit. Aside from it taming my inner monster, it helps in the prevention of osteoporosis by reducing the loss of calcium in my body and promoting good bone health, it helps my metabolism and helps maintain a healthier weight, it improves my sleeping, it reduces my risk of heart attacks or stroke, it increased my energy levels, improves the condition of my skin and hair, it helps with my joint pain, and it eliminates my hot flashes. For me, being on a HRT does improve my quality of life. I read once that risk is defined as the possibility or chance of harm; it does not indicate that harm will occur. I believe you had to do your research, understand the risks, talk to professionals, and make as educated decisions as possible, but I also believe at the end of the day you have to do what feels right to you; mind, body and soul.