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Breast Cancer Drug Might Treat Bipolar Disorder
Date:3/3/2008

Tamoxifen may ease condition's mania phase, but side effects could be a problem, experts say

MONDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- A drug commonly used to treat breast cancer may one day help manage symptoms of mania, or the "high" phase experienced by people with bipolar disorder, researchers say.

Men and women who took tamoxifen for three weeks experienced a significant lessening of their mania compared to people taking a placebo, the study found.

Whether or not tamoxifen will become a mainstay of treatment for bipolar disorder remains to be seen, however.

"The bad news is [that] this is something we would have to figure out how side effects are going to be a factor in long-term use," said one expert, Dr. Jane Ripperger-Suhler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychiatrist with Scott & White Mental Health Center. "The good news is that people are thinking outside the box in terms of what might be effective for a particular disorder."

"More trials need to be conducted," added Dr. Ma-Li Wong, professor of psychiatry and vice chair for translational research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Tamoxifen is not a drug that is without side effects. One needs to be careful in terms of drawing conclusions. Bipolar is not a short-term disorder and in clinical trials for breast cancer, you're talking about treatment of five years. Also, the dose used in this study is a bit high in comparison to that used in breast cancer."

The findings, by researchers at Dokuz Eylül University Medical School in Izmir, Turkey, are published in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Tamoxifen helps suppress breast cancer by interfering with the action of the female hormone estrogen in the body.

The drug also inhibits the activity of a family of enzymes known as protein
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