Women undertaking post-menopausal hormone therapy are at a higher risk for ovarian cancer, a study by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition said.

The study, which covered some 126,920 post-menopausal women, and was presented at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research, also pointed that the cancer could be fatal.

Researchers studied the women for nine years and found that 424 women had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Even factoring all other triggers including body mass index, smoking, and several other risk factors, the researchers found 29 percent of the women under hormone therapy developed ovarian cancer, as compared to women who did not take the hormones.

It also showed that women who took estrogen only hormones post hysterectomy were under greater threat of developing the problem. It was as high as 63 percent as compared to non-users. However the study did not find anything alarming on women taking a combination of estrogen and progestin.

According to Dr Konstantinos K. Tsilidis, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Oxford’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit in England, who authored the study, those women who have been taking the hormones for five years and above should be worried about the cancer.

In fact an earlier study financed by the National Institutes of Health showed that women under hormone therapy were under greater risk of developing stroke and blood clots. It also showed that the combination therapy also increased the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks. Women are being advised by the healthcare professionals to take the lowest possible dosages for a short period of time to beat the problem.

“It’s important to get the message out to women,” Dr. Tsilidis said. “This is a very lethal cancer.”