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In Part 1 of this 2-part article series we covered the history of Tamoxifen, what estrogen is, why it’s so important for your health, and the serious side effects that can accompany Tamoxifen use. Read Part 1 here.
The Tamoxifen Lies Women Have Been Told
For years, primary care physicians and oncologists have been telling those with ER+ breast cancer that taking tamoxifen for five years following the conclusion of their other treatments − usually chemotherapy and/or radiation − will offer as much as a 50% chance of living disease free. (The percentage of disease-free benefits differs between doctors and which studies they rely upon.)
The problem is that the studies don’t actually reveal this much of an advantage. It is well known that ICI and its partner, Zeneca, were given $68 million by the National Cancer Institute to do a study on 11,000 women proving the efficacy of the drug. With that much money at stake, it’s next to impossible to believe that the truth about this drug would be revealed.
Tamoxifen Use Promotes Other Cancers
One of the worst lies patients have been told goes back to 1992 when the studies on tamoxifen first began. Study subjects were never told about the possibility of serious side effects, although researchers must surely have known about them.
While tamoxifen initially appeared to offer benefits and decrease rates of breast cancer recurrence, it would eventually be revealed that it also promoted aggressive liver and uterine cancers. It also caused fatal blood clots and interfered with many other functions in the body.
After taking tamoxifen over a period of time, it has been observed that it shows two conflicting characteristics. It could act in the body as either an estrogen-blocker OR as an actual estrogen. While tamoxifen exhibits antiestrogenic properties in the breast, it can act as an estrogen in the uterus, heart, blood vessels, and bone.
Natural therapists understand that when hormones are kept from reaching their primary target tissues, they are then forced to travel to other organs. This is only one of the disturbing problems associated with tamoxifen.
Potential Damage Caused by Tamoxifen Use
In 1994, a study of 111 postmenopausal women was carried out by English researchers examining the effects of tamoxifen on the uterus and ovaries. The study revealed that abnormalities in the endometrium of the women were detected from the very first tablet of tamoxifen. 16% of those studied had atypical hyperplasia and 8% of the women studied had polyps.
Rarely are we warned about the possibility of eye damage when taking tamoxifen, but this is a very real threat. Previous studies indicated that around 6% of women taking tamoxifen were suffering irreversible damage to their retina and cornea. A 2015 study reveals that estrogen is very protective to the retina (and indeed the entire nervous system) and that tamoxifen inhibits the protective effects of estrogen.
Several studies showed that people taking tamoxifen may incur a 30–40% risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is emerging as a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States.
Shane Ellison, formerly a medical chemist with a master’s degree in organic chemistry, tells of his experiences with tamoxifen on his website “The Peoples Chemist.” Ellison is an open critic of the drug industry and tamoxifen, and has no problem stating that tamoxifen actually causes cancer.
For a solid year, Ellison worked for Array Biopharma designing tamoxifen derivatives for Eli Lilly, attempting to offset the side effects of tamoxifen by designing chemical cousins of the drug that did not cause cancer. Ellison tells us that all attempts failed. All of the drugs that were molecularly similar caused cancer, and so the project was cancelled.
The Link Between Tamoxifen and DES
Who knows how many future health problems will be associated with taking tamoxifen? Tamoxifen is chemically very similar to the controversial drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), which was the first synthetic estrogen drug created. Twenty years after taking DES, it was discovered that women had a 40-50% greater chance of breast cancer than non-exposed women.
The children of DES mothers also had a much higher incidence of miscarriages, reproductive abnormalities, sterility, cancers, and immune system problems.
People’s lives are at stake here but it is clearly obvious that the pharmaceutical companies really do not care. We are forced to wonder whether our doctors care either. Worldwide, tamoxifen is still the most prescribed drug for ER+ breast cancer today.
Tamoxifen in a Known Carcinogen
In 1992, researchers discovered that tamoxifen was a liver carcinogen in rats. While it is true that rats are not people, why has this particular truth not been divulged to us?
In May 1995 the State of California proclaimed tamoxifen to be a carcinogen, under legislation formerly known as Proposition 65. This requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
In April l996, the World Health Organization formally declared tamoxifen to be a carcinogen.
Newspapers in 1999 took great delight in telling us that tamoxifen use provided us with something like a 49% decrease in breast cancer recurrence for the women who took it for five years. A 49% reduction is huge, right? Who would refuse it if that were indeed the case?
The study being quoted appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1998, titled “Tamoxifen for Prevention of Breast Cancer: Report of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project P-1 Study.”
If you read the study carefully, however, you’ll discover that the chance of getting breast cancer without taking tamoxifen was only 1.3%. By taking tamoxifen that chance was reduced to 0.68 %. So indeed the difference between those two numbers is about 49 percent, but in terms of real numbers, only 86 out of 13,388 women in the trial were helped by tamoxifen. Not exactly a ringing endorsement in light of Tamoxifen’s extensive list of side effects, is it?
One 2010 study revealed that long-term use of tamoxifen was involved with a four-fold risk of getting estrogen-receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer in the other breast, a much more difficult to treat and more aggressive type of breast cancer.
If tamoxifen only increases the chance of living disease-free by a slim margin, puts us at a higher risk of life threatening complications, causes some breast tumors to adapt to tamoxifen and use it to fuel their growth, and quadruples the risk of ER- breast cancer in the other breast… it doesn’t require a lot of common sense to figure out this drug is not the best friend we might have been led to believe it is.
Your Own Estrogen May Not Be to Blame
Most integrative doctors and natural therapists are of the opinion that your body’s own natural estrogen is not the enemy implicated in ER+ breast cancer.
When you realize the huge role that estrogen plays in human health and the bad effects that result when estrogen is blocked, it is easy to see that estrogen is a hormone we both want and need in our bodies. There is a reason we have it and it plays a very key role in health maintenance – especially for women.
Few women are tested to find out what their estrogen levels actually are prior to tamoxifen being recommended. It is just assumed that they will derive some benefit from the drug since they had or have ER+ breast cancer.
What modern medicine appears to be ignoring are the environmental estrogens, known as xenoestrogens, that are so prevalent and coming at us from every direction. Xenoestrogens are in our drinking water, our food chain, our cosmetics, body care products, plastics, dry cleaning chemicals, pesticides, fabric softeners, and a huge variety of other sources.
Beware of Xenoestrogens
Science is well aware of xenoestrogens and their ability to disrupt the body’s hormonal system. A 2009 report titled “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement” tells us, “It has been hypothesized that the significant increase of the incidence of breast cancer in the industrialized world observed during the last 50 years may be due to exposure to hormonally active chemicals, particularly xenoestrogens.” This report includes 485 references to other scientific studies indicating xenoestrogens are causing us serious health problems.
When xenoestrogens get into our bodies, they act like estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors. The scary news is that they exert an estrogenic effect that is estimated to be between 200 to 300 times stronger than the body’s own natural estrogen!
Xenoestrogens have been blamed for a myriad of health problems. These include infertility, early puberty, hair loss, prostate problems, impotence, decreased libido, endometriosis, fibroids, and yes, breast cancer, as well as a host of other cancers.
The presence of xenoestrogens is something almost impossible to test for because all hormone panels in current use are designed to measure only human estrogen. Starting to get the picture of the seriousness of this problem?
How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer Coming Back?
There are many ways to decrease your risk of breast cancer recurrence (and of ever getting it in the first place) that do not expose you to harmful chemicals such as tamoxifen. It requires people to be proactive with their health choices, but the benefits derived from doing so are well worth the effort.
For instance, the same researcher who did the study demonstrating that taking tamoxifen increased the chance of getting ER- breast cancer in the contralateral breast, has researched the significance of lifestyle habits. He reported that obesity, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes are associated with a seven-fold increase in the risk of having a second primary cancer in the contralateral breast. These are lifestyle choices that are definitely within your control.
Naturopaths and integrative physicians are well aware that a healthy plant-based, organic diet, combined with exercise (at least 30 minutes per day five times per week offers survivors a greatly reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence. Just those two things – diet and exercise – are hugely beneficial and definitely worth considering for anyone’s wellness regimen.
Other lifestyle changes should include detoxing the household of toxic chemicals and choosing organic personal care products. Rebuilding the immune system using key supplements and food, reducing stress levels, paying close attention to emotional health and dealing with past traumas, and cleansing the colon and liver are important steps as well. All of these play a role in staying well and help you to create a body terrain that is unfriendly to cancer cells.
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For years, doctors have been telling women with ER+ breast cancer that taking tamoxifen for 5 years following their cancer treatments will offer as much as a 50% chance of living disease free.
While tamoxifen initially appeared to offer benefits and decrease rates of breast cancer recurrence, it was eventually revealed that it also promoted aggressive liver and uterine cancers. It also caused fatal blood clots and interfered with many other functions in the body.
Several studies have shown serious side effects from tamoxifen usage including irreversible damage to the retina and cornea and an increased risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) − a major cause of liver cancer.
Worldwide, tamoxifen is still the most prescribed drug for ER+ breast cancer today. In April l996, the World Health Organization formally declared tamoxifen to be a carcinogen.
What modern medicine appears to be ignoring are the environmental estrogens, known as xenoestrogens, that exert an estrogenic effect that is estimated to be between 200 to 300 times stronger than the body’s own natural estrogen!
There are many ways to decrease your risk of breast cancer recurrence − and of ever getting it in the first place − that do not expose you to harmful chemicals such as tamoxifen. (See article for list)