The use of exogenous estrogen (estrogen not produced by the body; estrogen from other sources) after the body has ceased to produce it because of natural or induces menopause. This type of hormone therapy is often prescribed to alleviate symptoms of menopause and has been shown to provide protective effects against heart disease and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Since estrogen nourishes some types of breast cancer, scientists are working on the question of whether estrogen replacement therapy increases breast cancer risk. Some new drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMs are being studied. They seem to have many of the beneficial effects of estrogen replacement without increasing breast cancer risk. Recent studies suggest that some SERMs may actually reduce breast cancer risk.