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Osteoporosis Drug Can Prevent Breast Cancer

Photo of pink ribbonOne of the largest breast cancer prevention trials ever conducted has revealed that the osteoporosis drug raloxifene (Evista®) works as well as the widely used drug tamoxifen (Nolvadex®) in reducing breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women. The study enrolled 19,747 postmenopausal women at increased risk of the disease; 62 women were enrolled at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) study showed both drugs cut the risk of developing invasive breast cancer in half. The women who took raloxifene daily, for an average of four years, also had 35 percent fewer uterine cancers and 29 percent fewer blood clots than women who took tamoxifen. Uterine cancers, especially endometrial cancers, are a rare but serious side effect of tamoxifen. Both drugs increase a women’s risk of blood clots.

Leslie Ford, associate director for clinical research in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention, says, “For many women, raloxifene’s benefits will outweigh its risks in a way that tamoxifen’s benefits do not.”

“Risk is an important thing,” says oncologist Edward Romond, the study’s principal investigator at UK. “If you are giving something to healthy women, you want something that has the least amount of risk.”
—Holly Staley

Also see Breast Cancer Breakthrough (Fall 05)

In Brief section as pdf (3 pages)