The drug tamoxifene (Nolvadex), currently used for the treatment of early and advanced breast cancer, has been found to cut the chances of developing breast cancer by 40 percent in women at high risk, in a study done by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP). The study was stopped more than a year early because of the overwhelming results in a posiotive light.
Unfortunately, Tamoxifene has also been found to increase the risk of pulmonary embolisms (clots in the lungs) and endometrial cancer. In the NCI and NSABP study, 33 women on the drug developed endometrial cancer, whereas only 14 of those in the placebo group did. Therefore, women, together with their doctors, need to weigh the positives and negatives of taking this medicine. All women taking the drug are advised to have routine gynecological exams.
Women taking raloxifene (Evista), a widely used drug forthe prevention of osteoporosis, may also be a preventative against breast cancer and heart disease. In recent months researchers found that women taking raloxifene had a more than 50 percent reduction in their risk of developing breast cancer, and peliminary findings show it may not increase endometrial cancer like other anti-breast-cancer drugs. Now a new study has found that raloxifene can also benefit a woman's heart. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that women taking raloxifene lowered their LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) levels by 12 percent. This is compared with a 14 percent decrease in LDL levels amoung women taking hor,one replacement therapy. Resaerchers have been looking for an alternative to hormone replacement, since it may increase risk of breast cancer. Further research is needed before doctors can recommend raloxifene to prevent heart disease.
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