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Greetings! We have been absent from your email in-box for a while now as our alert system was under construction, but we are excited to be back and to see so many new people utilizing our alert system! Your support and membership means a lot to the Network and we are happy to have you on board with us. Read on for the latest update in the debate on the link between breast cancer and hormone use. Strong links demonstrated between breast cancer and hormone useIn late April researchers reported that breast cancer rates remained low in 2004 after the substantial decline in 2003. Powerful evidence was published in the New England Journal of Medicine expressly linking the significant drop in breast cancer rates to the sharp drop in hormone use by menopausal women.In December 2006, the news of a recent report claiming a decline in the number of new breast cancer cases in 2003 hit the media. Scientists were speculating that the decline was due to the widespread reduction of hormone therapy in women since the release of the Women’s Health Initiative findings in 2002. Now, current study results confirm what we have always suspected to be true: menopause hormone therapy treatment increases women’s risk for breast cancer. The NWHN was a strong voice in the early 1990s for starting the Women’s Health Initiative, and has always held the position that a woman doesn’t need to be prescribed hormones simply because she is going through menopause. In fact, NWHN has advocated for decades that women must be informed about the increased risks associated with hormone use, especially the risk for breast cancer. We have always believed that if women got factual, reliable information about the risks and benefits of hormone therapy, they would be able to make informed decisions for themselves and their health. This study shows us that armed with the WHI results, women did just that. The study, a follow-up to a preliminary report presented last December with data from 2003, found that breast cancer rates for women 50 and older sharply declined in 2003 and remained low in 2004. It was expected that about 186.000 women would develop breast cancer in 2003, so about 13.020 fewer women were diagnosed with the disease than expected. Overall, in 2003 and 2004 combined, there were nearly 10% fewer breast cancer cases than expected. The fact that the decrease was most pronounced in women older than 50 further demonstrates the link between hormone therapy and breast cancer. Women 50 and older are prime targets for hormone therapy prescriptions and marketing. The study solidly confirms the need for better prescribing practices based on evidence from high quality clinical trials.These statistics though, are only part of the larger picture. Informed women are now able to avoid being harmed by menopause hormone therapy, but for many years tens of thousands of women were hurt while trying to achieve health benefits that were never medically proven. We don’t need the study results to know that when marketing moves ahead of science, women suffer. It’s time to make sure that all medicines are well tested, and that aggressive marketing of unproven uses is not allowed. NWHN encourages people concerned about drug safety to contact their members of Congress and ask them to take action now to strengthen science at the FDA. To see what else we have been up to in the past three months check out our NWHN in Action page on the website.

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