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Does Tamoxifen Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

A joint analysis performed by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, the University of California at Davis, the University of California at San Francisco, and the University of Pittsburgh indicates that most women at high risk for developing breast cancer do not experience an increase in life expectancy by taking the drug, tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen is drug that modulates estrogen receptors in the body. It is generally recommended by the conventional medical community for women who develop estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.

Tamoxifen was approved for use in the United States in 1998. Since then, various task forces in the States and in Canada have recommended that physicians discuss the possible use of tamoxifen by women who have at least a 1.67 percent chance of developing breast cancer over the next five years, otherwise classified as the high risk category for breast cancer development.

After the most recent analysis was completed, researchers were able to conclude that tamoxifen can possibly extend life expectancy only in cases where a woman's five-year risk for developing breast cancer is 3 percent or more.

To be more specific, researchers "found that for women at the lower end of the high-risk range for developing breast cancer, there is a very small likelihood that taking tamoxifen will reduce mortality."

Why is this most recent study important for all doctors and patients to be aware of?

Tamoxifen is known to produce many undesirable physiological effects, the most common of which are:

  • Endometrial cancer (clearly, only in women who have not had a hysterectomy)
  • Stroke
  • Cataracts
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Higher risk of developing an estrogen receptor-negative tumor among women taking tamoxifen

Women who are interested in doing all that they can with their food and lifestyle choices to prevent breast cancer development may find the following articles to be helpful:

Thirteen Ways To Prevent Cancer

The Anti-Cancer Diet


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