Women should limit conventional hormone replacement therapy to five years. After menopause, taking estrogen alone for more than four years increases the risk for breast cancer by 20 percent. But the most recent studies show that breast cancer risk increases by 40 percent among women who take the combination estrogen/progestin (the term for synthetic progesterone) hormone replacement therapy than for non-users. [Journal of the American Medical Association, January 26, 2000]. Taking HRT for less than five years does not increase the risk.
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Are there alternatives to the breast-squashing mammogram? HowStuffWorks looks at some options.