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Breast Cancer Prevention Drug a Possibility

A drug that treats osteoporosis has also been found to be effective in preventing breast cancer. The results are published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Older women may soon have another option in the fight against breast cancer. New studies show that Raloxifene, a drug used to treat osteoporosis, may also be effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Dr. Victor Vogel and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh studied nearly 20,000 women with a high risk of breast cancer, who had already reached menopause. Vogel said, “What we found was that the osteoporosis drug, Raloxifene, was equally effective as the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifene, at reducing the risk of life-threatening breast cancer.”

There are side effects to both drugs. Dr. Stephanie Land researched the quality-of-life issues associated with the two drugs. The studies appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She said, "What women are telling us is that although there are side effects with both of these treatments, the side effects did not impact the overall quality of life in a negative way."

Marion Taube took the drug for five years as part of the studies. She said, "I don't think I had any side effects, possibly leg cramping, but I don't know if that was related to the Raloxifene or unrelated."

Researchers say they expect the Food and Drug Administration to approve Raloxifene for breast cancer prevention, but that could take about a year.