LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A prevailing theory for nearly two decades has many women leary of using hormone replacement therapy as they age. Critics believed HRT dramatically increased the risk of breast cancer.

But opinions have evolved.

Dr. Mary Claire Haver is an accomplished and respected OB-GYN. She’s reflected on a day more than 20 years ago that deemed hormone replacement therapy as too risky. 

“I remember that day. All of a sudden, it was like a wall came down,” Dr. Haver said. “‘We’re stopping this trial because it is too dangerous to give you HRT. It is going to give you cancer.'”

A 2002 study from the Women’s Health Initiative sent shockwaves through the healthcare industry. Since then, much of the study’s findings have been walked back.

Now 20 years later, new research and improved medications suggest hormone replacement therapy is not as threatening as previously suggested.   

“It had about a 30 % decrease in risk of breast cancer overall,” Dr. Haver explained. “Women with estrogen and progestin did have a slight increase risk it went from 3.2 % to about 3.8%.” 

It is different for every patient, including factors like the type of HRT, the dosage, your age when you start taking it, and how long you use it. Dr. Haver specializes in treating peri-menopausal and menopausal women.  

Through her practice, her book, and extended through social media, she encourages women to gauge their risk tolerance and family history with the health benefits.  

“We are no longer blanket-pulling women off at a certain age.” Dr. Haver explained. “Especially if she’s done well.” 

The American Cancer Society said estrogen-only HRT is not linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. The benefits such as quality of life and protection of bone health can outweigh the risk for certain women.  

It is best to educate yourself and talk with your doctor to decide what’s right for you.