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A 'Preemptive' Strike

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Tamoxifen, an effective treatment for breast cancer, may also prevent the disease in healthy women a new Cancer paper reveals. Although the drug has serious side effects — such as raising the risk of uterine cancer, heart attack, and stroke — it could be worth the risk for some healthy women under 55, reports New Scientist's Andy Coghlan. The paper — an analysis of data from four clinical trials of tamoxifen, taking into account information from more than 1.5 million women — suggests that there is a "window" in which the drug could be taken to prevent breast cancer, Coghlan says. "Women most likely to benefit are those aged 50 to 55 who are judged to have a risk of developing breast cancer within five years that is more than 66 percent higher than normal," he adds. One of the study's authors, Peter Alperin of the healthcare consultancy firm Archimedes, says that for every 1,000 women preemptively treated with tamoxifen, 29 cases of breast cancer and nine deaths from the disease could be prevented.

The Scan

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