Tamoxifen, as well as all cancer chemotherapy drugs, is listed
as experimental by the FDA. It is so dangerous that treatment was originally
limited to terminal cancer patients. It works by interfering with the activity
of the hormone estrogen, which (according to theory) promotes the growth of
breast cancer cells. Many alternative practitioners believe that it's not the
estrogen but a fairly easily corrected estrogen imbalance that contributes to
The drug is said to be "modestly effective" for advanced
breast cancer and was recently approved by the FDA for use in healthy women at
risk for breast cancer. Many women's groups oppose this new use of the drug
contending that the purported benefits are limited and Tamoxifen may be
dangerous in healthy women. Tamoxifen increases the chances that healthy women
will develop endometrial cancer, blood clots in the lungs, or cataracts and if
used too early or for too long the body may become resistant to it.
The basis of the FDA approval was a five-year Tamoxifen study
involving 13,000 women began in June, 1992. It was terminated early and declared
a huge success. The data indicated that less than 3 women in 100 on the placebo
developed breast cancer. Less than 2 women in 100 on Tamoxifen developed the
disease. This was touted as a 45% risk reduction.
British and Italian doctors recently reported in the Lancet
that they did not find any benefit from Tamoxifen for healthy women. The FDA
panel that examined the benefits and risks made it clear that there is no proof
Tamoxifen prevents breast cancer. There is already evidence that taking
Tamoxifen for more than 5 years reduces its benefit. Why, then, did they halt
the study early? Surely not because the results were beginning to deteriorate.
One can only speculate what increasing the size of the market by over 30 million
women would mean. Could something like this really happen in America?
New Information has come to light in
the Tamoxifen controversy
The costs of the latest cancer
Richard D. Gelber, a
biostatistician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and numerous
co-authors have concluded that "chemotherapy may offer no benefit" for
post-menopausal women with breast cancer that is made worse by the presence of
estrogen. Instead, they recommend a five-year course of Tamoxifen after surgery,
since Tamoxifen blocks estrogen.
According to Dr. Gelber, "There is a quality of life burden associated with
chemotherapy. It is not a free ride. It should not be given frivolously." But is
Tamoxifen any better? Tamoxifen isn't technically called chemotherapy, because
it's an anti-hormone agent that blocks the effect of estrogen, whereas a
"chemotherapeutic" drug is one that attacks cancer cells. The rationale is that
chemotherapy will kill the bad cells before it kills enough good cells to kill
But if you ever take Tamoxifen, you may not be able to tell the difference.
It will seem like chemotherapy because of the side effects. There is a
legion of support from concerned medical experts from all over the world on this
issue. One wonders when the traditional medical establishment will realize that
the same quality of life issues can be raised for all chemotherapies? But that
is not the point of this article.
The dark side of
Tamoxifen - It's worse than just ineffective
As long ago as 1998, reports
were coming in on the dark side of Tamoxifen. Prominent medical journals like
the Lancet published studies from Britain, the U.S., and Italy indicating
Tamoxifen's ineffectiveness - and worse.
More recently, on July 29, 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) released The 9th Report on Carcinogens, prepared by the National
Toxicology Program. According to this new report (based on sufficient evidence
from studies in humans indicating a causal relationship between exposure
to Tamoxifen and cancers of the uterine endometrium) Tamoxifen makes its debut
as an official carcinogen. So now it's official, "there is clear evidence," one
article reports, "that Tamoxifen increases the risk of uterine cancer in women
taking the drug."
Two studies, one in England and the other in Italy (performed by the
world-famous Italian scientist U. Veronisi), reported that the incidence of
breast cancer among the women participating in the trials was the same whether
or not they took Tamoxifen. So if the drug doesn't work for its intended
purpose, why take it?
Cancer of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, is twice as common in
patients who have taken Tamoxifen. And blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary
emboli) are three times more likely to occur in the Tamoxifen-treated patients.
In fact, two women, both in the Tamoxifen group of one study, died from
As an intelligent consumer, one must ask if it's worth the risk for, at best,
a one in 100 chance? If I was diagnosed with an estrogen imbalance, I
would see an alternative doctor for rebalancing and perhaps consider using a
natural progesterone cream.