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Osteoporosis Drug Decreases Risk for Breast Cancer

According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, a new drug being tested to combat osteoporosis in premenopausal women has been found to simultaneously fight breast disease. An international study conducted in 180 American hospitals and 24 European health centers found that raloxifene reduced a womanís risk of contracting breast cancer by 76%.

The 3-year breast cancer study followed 7,705 women; 2,557 who received one tablet of raloxifene per day, 2,572 who took two raloxifene pills daily, and 2,576 women who took two placebo pills each day. All the women were under 81 years of age.

Results showed that of the women who received either dose of raloxifene (5,129 women), only 13 cases of breast cancer developed. This compares to 26 cases of breast cancer found in the women who took the dummy pills (2,576 women).

Researchers report that raloxifene "prevents estrogen-related breast cancers by occupying the same molecular receptor sites as the estrogen molecule on the surface of cells. [It] blocks estrogen's cancer promoting effects on breast and endometrial tissue . . ." Scientists are comparing this drug with tamoxifen, a similar drug that also obstructs estrogen on breast tissue.

Side effects of raloxifene included blood clots, hot flashes, flu symptoms, cramps, and swelling of the legs. The results of the study found no differences in the effectiveness of the drug in women who received one or two tablets of raloxifene daily. Currently, the study is continuing in order to examine the long-term effects and usefulness of raloxifene in preventing breast cancer.

Media Resources: New York Times - June 16, 1999



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