The breasts of women on hormone therapy are more like those of younger women—denser and less fatty—a fact that has caused some doctors to worry that HT might make annual mammograms harder to read. That led some to request their patients to take a one- or two-month hormone holiday before the big squeeze. To see if this actually makes a difference, scientists at the University of Washington asked 1700 midlife women to either stop their pills for one or two months or to keep taking them. It turns out the women who halted the hormones (for either length of time) were recalled for follow-ups as often as those staying on it. Although breast density did lessen during the break, it didn’t make a difference in the mammogram results, says study coauthor Diana Buist, PhD, associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. What the hormone holidau did cause: more hot flashes and sleeping woes.
Make it work: Feel free to stay on your hormones even when your mammogram is looming. If your doctor suggests going off beforehand, ask him to check out this study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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