A new study has found that a drug used to treat brittle bone disease in post-menopausal women could have a preventative impact on the development of invasive breast cancer.
Scientists originally made the link between raloxifene, sold under the brand name Evista, and a reduction in aggressive, invasive breast cancers while they were studying its impact on heart disease.
The trial, the results of which are reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that while raloxifene had no impact on heart disease, it did reduce the risk of invasive cancers by 55%.
By blocking the receptors, raloxifene may prevent some of the effects of oestrogen that spur cancer growth, the scientists said. It is understood to act in the same way as the highly successful breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
More than 10,000 women took part in the trial, which found that, over a period of more than five years, those who took raloxifene were 55% less likely to develop invasive oestrogen-positive breast cancer than those who took a dummy placebo drug.
However, the treatment did result in an unwanted side-effect, with women given raloxifene more likely to suffer blood clots and fatal strokes compared with those taking the placebo.
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