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Breast cancer drug tamoxifen may protect the heart
February 12, 2001

Tamoxifen is an anti-cancer drug that has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women with a high risk for that disease.  Because tamoxifen has some estrogen-like properties, doctors have wondered about the effect of this drug on a woman's risk for heart disease.

A new study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, healthy women taking tamoxifen for prevention of breast cancer experienced lower cholesterol levels, lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and lower levels of fibrinogen than did women taking an inactive placebo.  Because elevated levels of cholesterol, CRP and fibrinogen are risk factors for coronary artery disease, it appears that tamoxifen is unlikely to increase a woman's risk of heart disease, and may decrease that risk.

This study should reduce any fears that tamoxifen may be harmful to the heart, but investigators stress that proving the drug is beneficial to the heart will require larger and longer term studies.

Recent article on CRP and fibrinogen

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