Breast cancer drug halves cases in high-risk women
A drug commonly used to stop the body’s production of estrogen may reduce breast cancer risk in women by more than 50 percent, according to a new study funded by Cancer Research UK.
Researchers recruited almost 4,000 women between ages 40 and 70 who were all considered at high risk of breast cancer. Half of the participants were given the drug—anastrozole—on a daily basis, while the other half was given a placebo. In order to achieve accurate results, neither the participants nor the researchers were allowed to know who was given the placebo versus the drug.
About five years later, the researchers followed up with the participants to find out which group of participants developed breast cancer. The researchers found that in the group given the drug anastrozole, 2 percent of the study participants developed breast cancer; in the group given the placebo, 4 percent developed breast cancer.
The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest that anastrozole prescriptions may be an effective preventive measure against breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Researchers said that women with high risk factors, including family history or having certain types of benign breast disease, may especially benefit from taking anastrozole.