Magazine article Science News

Raloxifene Imparts Anticancer Benefit

Magazine article Science News

Raloxifene Imparts Anticancer Benefit

Article excerpt

When the osteoporosis drug raloxifene came on the market last year, it offered women a way to strengthen their bones yet avoid the breast-cancer risk associated with estrogen-replacement therapy. Now, researchers report that raloxifene may actually prevent breast cancer in many women.

As part of a worldwide study to gauge raloxifene's effects on osteoporosis, scientists gave the drug to two-thirds of a group of 7,705 postmenopausal women with the brittle-bone disease. The other participants received an inert substance. Neither the scientists nor the study participants knew which pills contained the medication.

All participants also took calcium and vitamin D supplements daily and received regular mammograms or breast ultrasound examinations in addition to bone measurements.

During the 40-month study, 27 of the 2,576 women receiving the inert pills developed breast cancer, while only 13 of the 5,129 women taking raloxifene were diagnosed with the malignancy. In other words, breast-cancer incidence with the drug was only one-fourth as great as without it, the researchers report in the June 16 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION.

"It's a landmark study," says Michael B. Sporn, a pharmacologist at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H.

The drug seems to stifle invasive breast cancer, in which estrogen induces uncontrolled cell growth, says study coauthor Steven R. Cummings, an internist and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. …

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