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.

 Published: 2017.10.04 , Last updated: 2019.01.24


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.


E. BotteriStøer NCS. SakshaugS. Graff-IversenS. VangenS. Hofvind, T. de Lange, V. Bagnardi, G. UrsinE. Weiderpass. Menopausal hormone therapy and colorectal cancer: a linkage between nationwide registries in Norway. In press.

Botteri EStøer NCSakshaug SGraff-Iversen SVangen SHofvind SUrsin GWeiderpass E (2017). Menopausal hormone therapy and risk of melanoma: Do estrogens and progestins have a different role? Int J Cancer141 (9)1763-1770.

M. Roman, S. Graff-Iversen, E. Weiderpass, S. Vangen, S. Sakshaug, S. Hofvind, G. UrsinPostmenopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer prognostic characteristics: A linkage between nationwide registries (2016). Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. 25(11): 1464-1473.

M Roman, S. Sakshaug, S. Graff-Iversen, S. Vangen, E. Weiderpass, G. Ursin, S. HofvindPostmenopausal hormone therapy and the risk of breast cancer in Norway. International Journal of Cancer (2016). 138(3): 584-593.


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).