Postmenopausal women taking the osteoporosis drug raloxifene could also halve their risk of invasive breast cancer, US research findings suggest.
Raloxifene is currently approved by NICE for the secondary prevention of osteoporosis in women who cannot tolerate bisphosphates.
The latest study looked at a group of 10,101 postmenopausal women who were over 55 and at risk of CHD. They were assigned to receive 60mg of raloxifene daily or placebo for five and a half years.
Each woman filled in a breast cancer risk assessment questionnaire looking for risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer and use of HRT.
Breast examination was performed at the start of the study, after two years and at the end of the study. A total of 128 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the women who took raloxifene had a 55 per cent reduction in the risk of developing invasive oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, compared with the women on placebo.
This is equivalent to an absolute risk reduction of 1.2 cases of breast cancer per 1,000 women treated for one year.
But raloxifene had no effect on the incidence of non-invasive breast cancer.Raloxifene may have anti-oestrogen effects that can reduce the incidence of oestrogen-positive breast cancers, suggest the researchers.
Lead researcher Professor Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, from the department of family and preventative medicine at University of California, San Diego, said: 'If a woman at risk of osteoporosis is considering taking a medication, then raloxifene might be an appealing option due to its protective role in invasive breast cancer.'
J Natl Cancer Inst 2008; 110: 854-61
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