Research has shown that Tamoxifen and three other drugs can reduce the chance of breast cancer by up to 38 per cent
Four drugs have been found to reduce the chance of at-risk women developing breast cancer.
The study, which examined the medical records of 83,000 women taking the pills, showed that four drugs – tamoxifen, raloxifene, arzoxifene and lasofoxifene – reduced breast cancer by 38 per cent in those at risk.
Tamoxifen is commonly used to treat existing breast cancer sufferers after surgery, while the other three drugs are all treatments for the brittle bone disease osteoporosis.
Researchers analysed the effect of taking the drugs for five years, and then stopped the treatment for a further five. The Lancet reported that after five years of treatment, the risk of breast cancer fell by 42 per cent. A reduction of 25 per cent was also seen in women five years after they stopped taking the pills.
Professor Jack Cuzick, of Queen Mary, University of London, who led the research, said: ‘These are very encouraging results and pave the way for more widespread use of these drugs in high-risk women in a manner similar to the way statins and blood pressure-lowering drugs are used to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.’
Tamoxifen is yet to be approved as a preventative treatment for breast cancer in the UK. But in January the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which examines the cost-effectiveness of new medication, conditionally recommended that tamoxifen should be given to women at high risk of breast cancer.
NICE is due to issue its final report in June this year.