Beliefs about breast cancer risk and use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.
Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) decreases the risks of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, but increases the risk of breast cancer. Although only 20-30% of postmenopausal women in the United States take HRT, the relationship between breast cancer risk perception and use of HRT is not known.To assess the impact of belief that HRT increases breast cancer risk and high perceived risk of breast cancer on the use of HRT.Cross-sectional mailed survey.189 randomly selected postmenopausal women from a general internal medicine practice in the Philadelphia area.Of the 268 women (67%) who returned surveys, 189 were postmenopausal; 70 (37%) were currently using HRT and 21 (11 %) had previously used HRT. Respondents' mean age was 59.6 years; 64% were Caucasian, and 33% had completed college. Fifty-nine women (33%) thought HRT increased the risk of breast cancer, 22 (12%) thought it did not, and 100 (55%) were unsure. Mean perceived lifetime risk of breast cancer was 31% (range 0%-100%). After multivariate adjustment, current use of HRT was inversely associated with age (OR 0.96 for each one-year increase, 95% CI 0.940.98), and positively associated with Caucasian race (OR 2.73, 95% CI 1.40-5.32). Use of HRT was not associated with belief that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, breast cancer risk perception, or perceived severity of breast cancer.Belief that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer and high perceptions of breast cancer risk may not be important barriers to use of HRT. Efforts to improve decision making about HRT should focus on previously established barriers, such as perceptions of menopause and lack of physician discussion, rather than misconceptions about breast cancer risk.
Armstrong, K; Popik, S; Guerra, C; Ubel, PA
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