Fears for HRT links to can­cer

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - SUE DUN­LEVY

HUN­DREDS of women are dy­ing as the num­ber of cases of deadly uter­ine can­cer has tripled in re­cent decades – and ex­perts are link­ing com­pound­ing chemists us­ing un­reg­u­lated hor­mone re­place­ment ther­a­pies to the dra­matic rise.

The num­ber of new cases of uter­ine can­cer di­ag­nosed in­creased from 942 in 1982 to an es­ti­mated 2861 in 2017, and it now claims about 450 moth­ers and grand­moth­ers a year.

Pro­fes­sor Neville Hacker, di­rec­tor of gy­nae­co­log­i­cal can­cer at the Royal Hos­pi­tal for Women, said about half the rise was due to obesity.

“Fat cells pro­duce oe­stro­gen and that stim­u­lates the uterus and brings pre­ma­lig­nant changes called en­dome­trial hy­per­pla­sia,” he said.

But he has also treated about a dozen cases of uter­ine can­cer linked to hor­mone re- place­ment prod­ucts pro­duced by com­pound­ing chemists.

Pro­fes­sor Hacker was one of three doctors who in 2007 re­ported cases of uter­ine can­cer linked to com­pound chemist HRT, but 10 years later reg­u­la­tors are still to act.

The Ther­a­peu­tic Goods Ad­min­is­tra­tion said com­pounded medicines were ex­empted from safety and ef­fi­cacy rules that ap­ply to medicines pro­duced by big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

A spokesman for the Phar­macy Board of Aus­tralia said, in or­der to min­imise the risks as­so­ci­ated with com­pounded medicines, the board de­vel­oped ex­ten­sive guide­lines in 2015.

The board said it was un­able to com­ment about whether it had re­ceived any com­plaints about com­pounded medicines linked to can­cer or whether it car­ried out au­dits to check their safety.

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