Among women at high risk for breast cancer, fewer than one in five were inclined to take the drug
tamoxifen to prevent the disease, according to UC Davis Health System researchers. Concerns about the
drug's potential side effects were the primary reason. The study, funded by the California Breast Cancer
Research Program and the National Cancer Institute, was published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal
of the American Cancer Society.
Taking tamoxifen can reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 49 percent. However,
the drug increases risks for endometrial cancer, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, painful sexual
intercourse and cataracts requiring surgery.
Joy Melnikow, UC Davis family and community medicine professor and the study's lead author, said, "Women
in our study were very concerned about potential harmful effects when they considered taking tamoxifen
to reduce their risk for a disease they might not get."
The finding has implications for the development of other chemoprevention drugs to reduce cancer risk.