Taking Tamoxifen or using birth control drugs can increase risk of triple negative breast cancer 4-fold

May 6, 2010

Manchester by the Sea, MA

A woman’s risk of developing aggressive triple negative breast cancer seems to increase 4- fold for individuals who are either taking birth control drugs or are taking the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen.

Both pieces of research out of the Seattle- based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published in different scientific journals in 2009,  include important facts for women who are currently using either of these drugs, or considering the use of either drug.

Unfortunately neither the American Cancer Society, nor Susan G. Komen for the Cure have yet to  mention either of these recent and alarming studies on their websites as  of May 7, 2010.

WHY??

If the American Cancer Society is  considered by many to be our unofficial  national cancer prevention organization ; if Susan G Komen is considered to be  our leading national non profit on breast cancer education,  why isn’t either group sounding an alarm about using birth control drugs or using Tamoxifen?

A possible answer: Pharmaceutical companies that make billions from contraceptive drugs and billions from the sale of Tamoxifen each year,  also give hundreds of millions to the American Cancer Society and to  Komen each year.  Perhaps, these  non-profits  are unwilling  to bite the hands that feed them.

Meanwhile,   younger  women who use birth control drugs, and older women who remain on the drug Tamoxifen,   are left more vulnerable than other women for developing triple negative breast cancer,   a fast-growing cancer,   when it develops in younger women. Meanwhile, the disease  continues to affect more and more women of all ages, each year, in the United States.

Triple Negative now represents 15% to 20% of all new invasive breast cancer diagnoses, striking younger women more often than older women and striking a disproportionate number of younger black women compared to  white women.

Research studies  cited in today’s post:

Jennifer Dolle, et al, Risk Factors for Triple Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years , Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 2009; 18 (4) April 2009.

Christopher Li, MD PhD, Long-term tamoxifen use increases the risk of an aggressive, difficult to treat type of second breast cancer, Cancer Research, August 25, 2009,