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Study calls for more research on vasomotor symptoms and breast cancer link

By Melanie Hinze
Persistent vasomotor symptoms (VMS) may be linked with an increased incidence of breast cancer, according to research from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), published inMenopause.

The study found that women with persistent VMS had a slightly higher (13%) risk of breast cancer than women who had never had VMS. They also had higher breast cancer-related mortality, although the difference was not statistically significant.

The study authors noted that previous studies examining the association between VMS frequency and persistence with breast cancer incidence had been limited and provided conflicting results.

Commenting on the findings, Professor John Eden, Head of the Sydney Menopause Centre at the Royal Hospital for Women and Associate Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology at UNSW Sydney, said that although the study was interesting, the increased risk was very small, barely achieving statistical significance.

‘The effect of persistent flushing on breast cancer risk was smaller than the impact of alcohol or obesity,’ he told Endocrinology Today, adding that the authors had not offered a biological explanation for their findings.

The study included 25,499 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years from the WHI who had no prior or current menopausal hormone therapy use and were followed for a median of 17.9 years. In addition to the presence of VMS, breast cancer incidence was also found to be greater with increasing body mass index, current alcohol use and nulliparous status.

The authors concluded that women with persistent VMS were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than women who never experienced VMS, but they were not more likely to die from their cancer.

‘Given the mixed findings regarding VMS and breast cancer incidence and outcome, further study of this important question is needed’, they wrote.
Menopause 2018; doi: 10.1097/ GME.0000000000001283.