Even Healthy Women Should Take Breast Cancer Pills

First Posted: Dec 02, 2016 04:49 AM EST

Even healthy women are now advised to take pills to cut the risk of breast cancer.

BBC reported that hundreds of thousands of healthy women are urged to take pills to prevent breast cancer, according to NHS watchdog NICE.

Although pills like tamoxifen and raloxifene are still available in the pharmacies, the NICE guideline encourages women to take anastrozole, which only costs about 4p each.

Anastrozole is reportedly cheaper, more effective and has fewer side effects than the other ones.

According to trial results, 35 cancer cases were prevented in every 1,000 patients that were taking anastrozole, as compared to 21 for tamoxifen, which costs 9p per tablet.

However, anastrozole, just like tamoxifen, is not licensed for breast cancer prevention purposes. This, then, serves as a call for GPs to support prescribing off-label medications.

"This updated guideline is a great first step but we now need to ensure that these risk-reducing options actually make their way to patients that could benefit," Breast Cancer Now's Baroness Morgan told BBC. "Ultimately, if the full potential of anastrozole is to be realised for post-menopausal women, there needs to be far greater awareness and support for GPs in prescribing off-label treatments."

Another factor women need to consider is that anastrozole should only be used after a menopause, since the pill could trigger a drug-induced menopause to those who are pre-menopausal.

It is also not recommended for those with osteoporosis because anastrozole could weaken the bones.

"It's important that women at high and moderate risk are educated on the options available to them and are given the correct support at the right time," Professor Tony Howell, scientific director of the charity Prevent Breast Cancer, said according to Mail Online.

According to the U.S. breast cancer statistics, about 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. This happens due to genetic mutations resulting from aging process and life in general, rather than genetically inherited mutations.

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