Hormone replacement therapy, used by women to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, should be used only if absolutely necessary.

That’s the message of two new reports that add to evidence of HRT’s cancer risks. Investigators at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center say that a continued decline in national breast cancer diagnoses dovetails with a decline in HRT use.

The connection was established in 2002, when a study of Prempro, the most popular menopause drug, was halted it appeared to increase risks of both heart disease and breast cancer. Prempro sales plummeted, followed quickly by a drop in breast cancer.

The other report, produced by the UK’s Million Woman Study, suggests that HRT-caused ovarian cancers killed 1,000 British women between 1991 and 2005.

When used, say doctors, HRT drugs should be taken “at the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible time.”

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