Second Opinion: The New Carcinogens

Last week, the U.S. government added steroidal estrogen--like the kind used in hormone-replacement therapy and birth control pills--to its list of "known human carcinogens," a catalog that also includes asbestos, tobacco and mustard gas. The Report on Carcinogens, issued every two years by the National Toxicology Program, associates steroidal estrogen with increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer, based on data from studies of HRT and birth-control pills. Still, scientists debate whether such treatments--which combine estrogen with other hormones--pose the same threat as estrogen alone. "If this concerns you, talk to your physician about it," says Dr. Christopher Portier, associate director...

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