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From The Cancer Chronicles #14
© Feb. 1993 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

At Congressional hearings in late October, critics, especially from the women's movement, told of an increased risk of blood clotting, and liver and endometrial cancer, associated with the use of the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen. Nevertheless, senior NCI officials said (10/26) that they intended to move forward with a 10-year breast cancer prevention trial begun last spring.

The Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT) has begun testing the powerful drug on 16,000 healthy women who are thought to be at high risk of developing breast cancer. It is the largest such trial ever conducted and the centerpiece of NIH's new emphasis on women's health issues.

"No intervention is totally without risk, and tamoxifen does have some potential side effects," admitted Peter Greenwald, NCI director of cancer prevention. But he told the House subcommittee on human resources and intergovernmental relations that "the likely benefits...are a reduction in breast cancer, in heart disease, and maintenance of bone density. It is important to keep in mind the dimensions of these potential benefits."

Among women who have had one breast removed for cancer, tamoxifen is believed to reduce the risk of cancer developing in the other breast. The idea is to extend these findings to women who have not yet developed any disease. Since tamoxifen is carcinogenic, however, women are being asked to take a worrisome risk. And according to some reports, potential participants are shying away from this trial, which like many NCI trials is hampered by lack of popular participation. Tamoxifen is made by ICI Pharmaceuticals, a British drug giant. If tamoxifen is generally recommended for all women allegedly at high risk of breast cancer it would open a huge new market and represent a tremendous windfall for this and other pharmaceutical companies.


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Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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