Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tamoxifen in the news

In the Science Times today, Tara Parker-Pope tries to make the case that women are being illogical in not taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer.

I'm a scientist and the conclusion I draw from Ms. Parker-Pope's data differs from hers. Is it really logical to take a drug that when given to 100 high risk women, will lower the number of breast cancer cases from 1.9 to 1.0, but cause 8.5 additional cases of endometrial cancer, blood clots, cataracts, and sexual problems and 12 additional cases of hot flashes and irregular periods?

Are women really being illogical when they are willing to take birth control pills, but not tamoxifen? If the same 100 women were sexually active and not using birth control, 85 of them would become pregnant. Birth control pills would reduce this number to 1 to 8. If the pill were as ineffective as tamoxifen, women would be in big trouble.

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