Medications and Cancer

Medications can affect cancer risk; menopausal hormone therapy can for instance influence the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The aim of the project is to study associations between medication use and the risk of cancer and prognosis after a cancer diagnosis.

Last updated: 2019.11.23


The project is based on a large registry linkage between the Cancer Registry of Norway, the Norwegian Prescription Database and Statistics Norway, in addition to population based health examinations, for all males and females born in Norway between 1925 and 1986. The study population is followed from 2004, when the Norwegian Prescription Database was established, up until today. One of the strengths of the project is therefore that we can study medication use in detail over time.


Menopausal hormone therapy has been an important part of the project so far, and the associations with risk of breast cancer, melanoma and colorectal cancer have been studied in an older version of the data linkage. We plan to repeat these studies in the updated linkage, in addition to study the association with other cancer forms, for instance ovarian. Also other medications such as anti-hypertensives, metformin and statins are of interest in addition to other types of cancers, for instance lung and endometrial cancer.    

Some medications increase the risk of cancer, others can be protective and some may also improve cancer prognosis. It has for instance been shown that beta blockers may increase breast cancer survival. The idea that safe and well-tested medications can be used in secondary prevention and cancer treatment is intriguing. We will therefore also study associations between a variety of medications and survival after cancer diagnosis.



Cervenka IAl Rahmoun MMahamat-Saleh YFournier ABoutron-Ruault MCSeveri GCaini SPalli DGhiasvand RVeierod MBBotteri ETjønneland AOlsen AFortner RTKaaks RSchulze MBPanico STrichopoulou ADessinioti CNiforou KSieri STumino RSacerdote CBueno-de-Mesquita BSandanger TM et al. (2019)
Exogenous hormone use and cutaneous melanoma risk in women: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition
Int J Cancer (in press)
DOI 10.1002/ijc.32674PubMed 31506954

Botteri EStøer NC, Weiderpass E, Pukkala EYlikorkala OLyytinen H (2019)
Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Risk of Melanoma: A Nationwide Register-Based Study in Finland
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev28 (11)1857-1860
DOI 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-0554PubMed 31455672

Botteri E, Støer NC, Sakshaug S, Graff-Iversen S, Vangen S, Hofvind S, de Lange TBagnardi VUrsin GWeiderpass E (2017)
Menopausal hormone therapy and colorectal cancer: a linkage between nationwide registries in Norway
BMJ Open7 (11)e017639
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017639PubMed 29146641

Botteri E, Støer NC, Sakshaug S, Graff-Iversen S, Vangen S, Hofvind S, Ursin G, Weiderpass E (2017)
Menopausal hormone therapy and risk of melanoma: Do estrogens and progestins have a different role?
Int J Cancer141 (9)1763-1770
DOI 10.1002/ijc.30878PubMed 28685818

Román MGraff-Iversen SWeiderpass E, Vangen S, Sakshaug S, Hofvind S, Ursin G (2016)
Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and Breast Cancer Prognostic Characteristics: A Linkage between Nationwide Registries
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev25 (11)1464-1473
DOI 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0240PubMed 27461048

Román MSakshaug SGraff-Iversen SVangen S, Weiderpass E, Ursin GHofvind S (2015)
Postmenopausal hormone therapy and the risk of breast cancer in Norway
Int J Cancer138 (3)584-93
DOI 10.1002/ijc.29810PubMed 26289549


Poster "Menopausal hormone therapy and colorectal cancer: a linkage between nationwide registries in Norway", ANCR, Stavanger, august 2017. 

Poster "Menopausal hormone therapy and risk of melanoma: do estrogens and progestins have a different role?", ANCR, Stavanger, august 2017. 

Poster "Menopausal hormone therapy and risk of cutaneous melanoma: Do estrogens and progestins have a different role?", GAP, Houston, mai 2017.


Project group (Ursin and Hofvind missing).