ATLANTA - New government numbers give some of the strongest evidence yet that menopause hormones can raise the risk of breast cancer.
Rates of the disease leveled off in 2004 after plunging in 2003, the year after millions of women stopped taking hormones because a big study tied them to higher heart, stroke and breast cancer risks.
From 2001 to 2004, breast cancer rates fell almost 9 percent - a dramatic decline, researchers report in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The trend was even stronger for the most common form of the disease - tumors whose growth depends on hormones. Those cases fell almost 15 percent among women ages 50 to 69, the group most likely to have been on hormone pills.