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Estrogen and Breast Cancer?

Updated on August 22, 2016
Copyright Ruth Elayne Kongaika
Copyright Ruth Elayne Kongaika

What do you think?

Do you believe the benefits of female hormone replacement outweigh the risks?

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Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

There has been so much controversy regarding female hormone replacement in the past twenty years. I have been following the many developments closely. You see, in 1980 I had a hysterectomy. I was only 29 years old. This drastic surgical procedure helped me in some ways, but it also robbed me of the production of estrogen, which all women need. Estrogen keeps you young, virile, and feminine. Over the next few years, I experienced what most women have during menopause, night sweats, mood swings, loss of breast mass and libido. I was too young to be old.

During the next several years I tried very hard to find a doctor that would help me get my zest for life back. A friend of mine in Hawaii suggested I go and see a doctor who believed in female hormone replacement. I took her recommendation and the elderly doctor was very concerned at my condition. He gave me shots of estrogen and Vitamin B. I could not believe how much better I felt after only a few weeks. I had gotten so depressed with my condition and my quality of life was substandard.

I had four young children under eight years and they needed me and I again felt that I needed them. My husband noticed a difference right away when I returned after a few months of treatments. Life began again. Instead of shots, I took the estrogen in pill form but if I forgot to take it, I really would notice a difference in my energy level, mood and outlook. I became a convert to the value of female hormone replacement.

I became aware of the controversy over estrogen replacement. I was made to feel that I was only killing myself since the risk of breast cancer was so much higher. So then started the guilty feelings, but because of my experience, I would not stop taking the pills. You will find doctors that are either very against the treatment or supporters of it. I sought out those doctors that believed as I did.

I had a mammography every year (a procedure I really do not look forward to). One year the technician found some abnormalities on my mammography. I prepared myself to die soon and told myself I should have known better. They did another mammography to check further. It turned out to be nothing serious except fibrous breast tissue. Now I had died twice. I felt very blessed to be able to live another day, year, and decade.

Now after raising all of my children to adulthood and watching them marry wonderful spouses, I am still on estrogen replacement and feel fine. Now I have a dozen beautiful grandchildren that I adore. Life is full.

I feel so fortunate to still be able to work, garden, paint, and write about my experiences. I know others have not been as lucky. I watched as a young mother of several children was diagnosed with breast cancer and within six months, she passed away. I know some people have the cancer gene written into their DNA. Actually my own paternal aunt died of breast cancer in her 70s. I am still not out of danger, but I will continue to take estrogen replacement. The benefits outweigh the risks in my estimation.

Just as an aside, I also have primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver, which is also a precancerous condition. I take a medication on a daily basis to control this. Wow, I must be a ticking time bomb! But, I am enjoying each day of my life while I am still here.


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  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks for your comments. I know what you mean. Without estrogen, I feel really strange. I have been advised to lower my estrogen pills to every other day. I take estroven (a natural alternative) the other day. I seem to be doing alright, but I do have my mammogram every year. Hope you will be fine Diana.

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    Diana 7 years ago

    I too took hormones for many years due to terrible side effects due to lack of estrogen. I had to work, go thru several years where my husband was ill, and try to continue a "normal" life. Unfortunately, I was just diagnosed with estrogen positive breast cancer. It came on so suddenly and grew quickly. I still got it early and am now in treatment. All I can say, is have your yearly mammograms and of course, do self breast exams. It is a matter of choice and I am still glad I was able to take the hormones. I wish I could still take them!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks She-rah for your advice and great comments. I am taking my hormones every other day because my doctor thinks I need to wean myself off. Not sure how I will feel totally off of it - probably very old! Anyways, nice to know I am not the only one with these challenges.

  • She-rah profile image

    She-rah 8 years ago from Springfield, IL

    Hi Elayne! Great hub and I'm glad that you have been able to survive your hormonal issues. I too am faced with severe hormone issues. I was able to cure my fibrocystic breast disease within a few months, very painful condition. I'm so glad the HRT has helped you! It is very risky and sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. Been there done that. Not sure if you know this but the liver has to process and convert estrogen to be use by the body, especially synthetics in HRT, they can cause liver disease. Might be the cause of the liver disease. Not sure if you read my series on Progesterone Induced Anaphylaxis or not, but I found a way to use a very powerful "natural" bio-identical estrogen. It's a bio-identical estriol actually, that is produced mainly during pregnancy. I've never been able to take prescription hormones but had to have estrogen to save my life. Estriol is the most beneficial estrogen with out harmful side effects like breast cancer, liver disease. It actually prevents breast cancer and there are many studies on this. I use an all natural very powerful phytoestrogen from a specific plant for treatment, it was my only option. My breast disease has not returned (just had a sono last week) and my liver is doing well with no further damage. I completely understand the risks you are taking with HRT and thought that the estriol that I use may be more beneficial and healthy for you without the risks. What I use is specified in Part 4 of my series if you wanted to take a look. Think it might be perfect for you!!!!

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    Janet 8 years ago

    I love your hub!! Very informative and friendly. Thank you for sharing with me. It gives me some insight as to future choices I may have to consider regarding estrogen replacements. I am very happy that you have a full life and that you are able to enjoy your family and especially your grandchildren. Mahalo.

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    Liana 8 years ago

    I am so glad that you are still here as well!!! We love you!

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    isi 8 years ago

    What a life saver! You must still have a lot to do here with your grand children before departing to the other side of the veil. Keep taking that miracle pill and hope your hubby is greatful for this additional time with such a sweeet partner as you. Cheers