Breast cancer

24 August 2011

Women who drink, smoke don't stick with tamoxifen

Women at high risk for breast cancer who smoke and drink are less likely to stick with a drug regimen meant to prevent cancer, a new study finds.


Women at high risk for breast cancer who smoke and drink are less likely to stick with a drug regimen meant to prevent cancer, a new study finds.

Researchers analysed adherence to the drug tamoxifen by 11,000 women with a high risk of breast cancer who took part in the US National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project's Breast Cancer Prevention Trial.

Heavy drinkers (more than one drink a day) were less likely to stick with the drug regimen after one month. Smokers were less likely to adhere to the medication over the long term.

Yet physical activity levels and obesity were not associated with adherence, suggesting that "poor adherence is not simply based on a pattern of unhealthy behaviour in general, but could be related to common sociological, psychological, biological or genetic mechanisms that impact both substance use and medication adherence," the researchers wrote.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research, also suggests that certain women at high risk for breast cancer may require extra support to help with medication adherence.

"Patients shouldn't be afraid to ask for support from their social network and health care community," lead researcher Stephanie R. Land, a program director and statistician at US National Cancer Institute's Behavioral Research Program, said in a journal news release.

"Health care providers need to know that smokers and drinkers may need additional support. This medication has been shown to prevent breast cancer, but that benefit will only translate if women follow the regimen and maintain it," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on tamoxifen.

(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


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Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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