Once-dropping U.S. breast cancer rates now stable
February 28th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Once-dropping U.S. breast cancer rates now stable

After a large drop in U.S. breast cancer rates among non-Hispanic white women between 2002 and 2003, those rates did not continue to decline between 2003 and 2007. Those are the findings of a new study from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute that appears online in the publication Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

In July 2002 results were published from the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term national study,  finding that postmenopausal women who used combined hormone therapy – estrogen plus progestin - had negative health effects including higher risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and urinary incontinence.

The findings of the study results caused a “dramatic drop” in the use of postmenopausal hormone therapy and “breast cancer incidence rates among U.S. white women remarkably decreased by about 7% between 2002 and 2003,” according to the study.  But no studies examined what happened to breast cancer rates in the United States after 2003.

Researchers studied data on female breast cancer incidence from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) 12 registries for the years 2000 to 2007. The data showed breast cancer rates in non-Hispanic white women dropped between 2002 and 2003 but that drop didn’t continue between 2003 and 2007.  There was no significant change in the rate among non-Hispanic white women. For non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women, the data did not show the same drop from 2002-2003, and the study found no significant changes in breast cancer rates among those groups from 2003 to 2007.

The authors offer several possible reasons for the stabilization in breast cancer rates among non-Hispanic white women after 2003. Menopausal hormones are believed to encourage growth of hormone-sensitive tumors, and while the report shows that  postmenopausal hormone therapy use has continued to decline through 2008, the decrease in hormone therapy use after 2003 may not have been large enough to continue delaying diagnoses. A second factor, according to the study, may reflect the increased sensitivity of mammograms without the use of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is known to increase breast density; the number of mammograms compromised by breast density would most likely decrease with the decrease in hormone therapy.  The report also suggests that stable breast cancer rates may “in part reflect the relatively stable rates of screening mammography in the U.S. since 2000.”

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Lou

    You could potentially see a dramatic drop in breast cancer rate by simply taking enough vitamin D to maintain optimal range of 50-80 ng/ml which is often around 5,000 IU a day. It is estimated that 97% of USA population fall are in 20-30 ng/ml range which is low thanks to lifestyle (working inside every day) and medical establishment and government's ultra low recommendation amount of 200-400 IU a day. For more information, visit Vitamin D Council and go to Cancer section on the left. There are several pharma companies that already knew about vitamin D's cancer fighting ability and are working on analogs of vitamin D to be patented and use them to treat cancer. It is just simply a lot cheaper to prevent cancer in the first place by making sure you get enough vitamin D to maintain optimal range. It costs almost nothing. A bottle of 5000 IU softgel that lasts you a year costs me 20 dollars. Of course, there's a sun that you can expose most of your body between 10am and 2pm for 20-30 minutes to produce 20,000 IU of vitamin D just like that. For African-american, it takes 6-10 times longer than white people to produce same amount of vitamin D because of dark skin acting as strong sunblock (they evovled to tolerate harsh sun at the equator while white people evolved to be well, white people when they moved poleward where the sun is weaker.

    March 1, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply

    The Cancer Society saw this drop in profits and pushed to do something about it. There is no doubt in my mind that cancer is man-made and thrives ON PURPOSE to keep the profits rolling in for the crooks in the medical field.

    I myself saw this when my cancer was going into remission from using natural treatments. My doctor DROPPED me from his care and told me point blank to STOP using the treatments or risk being denied care by him. Why ? He was threatened by my getting better. I would no longer need his expensive services and he would lose lots of money.

    MOST doctors want to treat your symptoms so that you can die a slow death. That way they can squeeze every last penny out of you while you grasp for hope. Its a sick and disgusting practice that no longer has any respect.

    March 1, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jonathan

    It's not surprising that the drop in breast cancer incidence is not sustained indefinitely. Most women who stopped HRT did so immediately after WHI and the rate of decrease after about 2004 has been much less than in 2002 and 2003. Also that there were 7% fewer berast cancers is in line with epidemiological data from Anthony Miller who calculated that HRT was attributable to 8% of breast cancers, whereas other factors like postmenopausal obesity and delayed childbearing were more significant (17%-26%). But as stated before too, breast cancers become more easily detectable when women go off hormones. This fits in line with the WHI as well, which showed a 60% higher risk of having larger and/or node-positive breast cancer and last year's 11-year follow-up study showing a doubled risk of DYING of breast cancer due to HRT use.

    March 1, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 4, 2011 at 06:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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