UCSF study finds that an osteoporosis prevention drug reduces the risk of breast cancer by 76 percent in postmenopausal women

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco report that a novel osteoporosis prevention drug, called raloxifene, reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis by 76 percent after forty months of treatment.

The final results of the Multiple Outcomes of Raloxifene Evaluation (MORE) trial are published in the June 16 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"This is an exciting start because women who are concerned about breast cancer now have another alternative for reducing their risk of developing the disease and preventing osteoporosis at the same time," says Steven R. Cummings, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and epidemiology and lead author of the study. "If raloxifene's benefits continue over a longer period of time, treatment with the drug may be a way of substantially reducing a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer."

The overall 76 percent reduction in the incidence of breast cancer is due to a 90 percent reduction in the risk of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (ER+) and 0.88 reduction in the risk of estrogen-receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer among study participants who received raloxifene, Cummings says. ER+ breast cancer is the most common type of breast cancer among older postmenopausal women, accounting for approximately 75 percent of all cases in this population.

ER+ breast cancer tumor cells contain a protein, or receptor, that responds to estrogen and stimulates tissue growth in a woman's breasts, increasing her risk of breast cancer.

During the UCSF-led study, which took place at 180 clinical centers, 7,705 postmenopausal women (mean age 66.5 years) with osteoporosis who were at a low to average risk of developing breast cancer were randomized to receive either 60 milligrams (mg) or 120 mg of raloxifene per day, or a matching placebo. Of these women, 2,572 received 120 mg of raloxifene daily; 2,557 received 60 mg and one placebo tabl

Contact: Abby Sinnott
University of California - San Francisco

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