Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have found that a breast cancer drug can halve the risk of getting the cancer, in high-risk postmenopausal women.
Anastrozole, currently used to prevent breast cancer recurrence, when used for prevention is more effective than tamoxifen, a drug used in the treatment of early and advanced breast cancer, and also had fewer side effects.
The new study, published in the Lancet, involved 4,000 postmenopausal women at high risk of getting the cancer. Half the participants were give 1mg of anastrozole daily and half were given a placebo.
After five years, 40 women in the anastrozole group developed breast cancer compared with 85 women in the placebo group.
"We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice when it comes to reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with a family history or other risk factors for the disease," said lead researcher Dr. Jack Cuzick, head of the Cancer Research the U.K.’s Center for Cancer Prevention.
"This class of drugs is more effective than previous drugs such as tamoxifen and crucially, it has fewer side effects," he said.
Some breast cancers require estrogen to grow. The estrogen binds to the estrogen receptors in these cells and activates them. Anastrozole works by preventing the body from making estrogen, and has been used to treat women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.
Women were deemed to be at a high risk if they met the following conditions: having two or more blood relatives with breast cancer, having a mother or sister who had cancer in both breasts, having a mother or sister who developed cancer before the age of 50 or if they had a high-risk types of benign cancers.
Lancet. [Queen Mary University] [Lancet]