Navigation Links
Tamoxifen May Offer Long-Term Heart, Cancer Protection

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Taking the breast cancer drug tamoxifen for the recommended five years protects women from breast cancer recurrence better than a two-year course of the drug and it also shields some women from cardiovascular disease, new research finds.

The cancer protection and heart-disease risk reduction were noted 15 years after starting treatment, according to the study published online March 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The findings may surprise many women on the medication, said Allan Hackshaw, deputy director of Cancer Research and the University College London Cancer Trials Center. "I think many women don't realize the benefits [reduced cancer recurrence] last a long time if they can complete the five-year course, and particularly also the CV [cardiovascular] disease benefit," he said.

Hackshaw and his colleagues studied follow-up data for 3,449 participants in the Cancer Research UK "Over 50s" trial comparing tamoxifen use of five years and two years by women with early beast cancer. The women were between 50 and 81 at the start.

During the initial study period, 1987 to 1997, the women took 20 milligrams of tamoxifen a day for two years. After that, they were assigned randomly to stop taking the drug or to continue taking tamoxifen for three more years, if they were recurrence-free.

The researchers then tracked cancer recurrences, new tumors, death and cardiovascular events through April 2010.

There were 1,103 recurrences, 755 deaths from breast cancer, 621 cardiovascular events and 236 deaths from cardiovascular events. They found that 15 years after the women first began taking tamoxifen, for every 100 who took it for five years, nearly six fewer women suffered a recurrence compared to those on the two-year regimen.

The longer treatment reduced the risk of breast cancer developing in the opposite breast by 30 percent, the researchers found.

The effect on heart disease among women 50 to 59 years old was even stronger -- a 35 percent reduction in cardiovascular events and a 59 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular problems.

However, among older women the heart effect was much smaller and not statistically significant.

Tamoxifen, used for 30 years to treat breast cancer, inhibits the ability of estrogen-receptor positive cancers (the majority of breast cancers) to grow by disrupting estrogen activity.

It's not clear how the drug protects against heart disease, Hackshaw said. "But there is evidence that tamoxifen reduces lipid levels [for example, cholesterol], which we know in turn reduces cardiovascular risk," he explained.

It's possible that the protective effect declined in older women because damage to the arteries had already occurred, he speculated.

The new research is a timely reminder about the benefits of tamoxifen, said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, vice chair of medical oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif., and director of its women's cancers program.

Although many doctors prescribe medications known as aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer instead of tamoxifen, Mortimer said tamoxifen is still widely prescribed.

"Maybe for those who have problems with an aromatase inhibitor, they would be comforted by the fact that tamoxifen is an alternative and has a favorable effect on normal tissues, like bone and heart muscles," Mortimer said.

While not discounting the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors, Hackshaw said tamoxifen is much less expensive.

A month's supply of 20-milligram tablets, the dose used in the Hackshaw study, is about $100. Brand-name versions of aromatase inhibitors can cost more than $500 for 30 pills, although cheaper generic versions are also available.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Kathleen Pritchard, of Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Center in Toronto, said the findings about heart protection should be regarded with ''some caution,'' although the finding is of interest.

Some research has found cardiovascular deaths higher in women on aromatase inhibitors than tamoxifen, she writes, although not all studies of tamoxifen have found the cardiovascular protection. So, still more research is needed, she said.

More information

To learn more about tamoxifen, visit the National Cancer Institute.

SOURCES: Allan Hackshaw, deputy director, UK and University College London Cancer Trials Center, London; Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director, Women's Cancers Program and vice chair, medical oncology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; March 21, 2011, Journal of Clinical Oncology, online

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen Saves Lives, Medical Costs: Study
2. Taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer can save lives and money
3. HOXB7 gene promotes tamoxifen resistance
4. Cough medicine could help doctors identify how breast cancer patients metabolize tamoxifen
5. Scientists reprogram triple-negative breast cancer cells to respond to tamoxifen
6. Gene Mutation Offers Clues to Tamoxifen-Blood Clot Link
7. Gene mutation increases thromboembolism risk in women taking tamoxifen
8. Cell study finds receptor can fight tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer cells
9. Raloxifene, Tamoxifen Both Guard Against Breast Cancer
10. Doctors must collaborate so that patients get full benefit of tamoxifen treatment
11. GUMC researchers say flower power may reduce resistance to breast cancer drug tamoxifen
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Tamoxifen May Offer Long-Term Heart, Cancer Protection
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Young patients with a wide variety of dental needs can ... S. Lele, who are pediatric dentists in Tucson, AZ . Unlike traditional treatment ... system causes minimal discomfort and bleeding to the patient during treatment and the following ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In an article published November ... determine which patients are or are not eligible for bariatric surgery. The article explains ... 40, are more than 100 pounds overweight, or have a BMI of 35 and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The hospitals ... to several aspects of orthopedic care. They have received recognition for excellence from ... orthopedic care. , Becker's Hospital Review selected hospitals for inclusion based on ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The Trustees, Massachusetts’ largest conservation and ... fees at several of their most popular properties, including Crane Beach in Ipswich, ... REI’s Black Friday #OptOutside Campaign. The Trustees encourage families and friends to take ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... United Benefit Advisors (UBA), the ... Company as its newest Partner Firm. Based in Jefferson City, Missouri, their core ... advisor regardless of whether that client is a business, a family, or an ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Ascendant Solutions, Inc. (Pink Sheets: ASDS ) ("Ascendant" ... has declared a special 1 percent stock dividend on the ... 14, 2015, to shareholders of record December 7, 2015.  The ... of common stock. --> ... endorsement of our confidence in Ascendant,s growth strategy as well ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Figure 1, a free mobile-first network ... cases, has launched a new completely redesigned web version ... allows radiologists, who work primarily on a desktop, to ... with its radiologist user base, Figure 1 is hosting ... North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Family Rentals, a ... the launch of their newly designed, mobile-responsive website. ... --> Logo - ... --> Now, renting essential items ... vacation, just got a whole lot easier through ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: