New Breast Cancer Drug Anastrozole Prevents, Treats, And Keeps Cancer In Remission, Says New Study

What's better than a drug that beats breast cancer? One that also prevents it: A little miracle pill called anastrozole might be the key to helping women lower their risk of breast cancer. A recent study, presented by King's College London researchers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and published in the Lancet, indicated that the drug — typically used both to treat breast cancer and prevent it from coming back — helped high-risk women lower their chances of breast cancer by 53 percent.

For the study, 3,800 post-menopausal women from 18 countries, aged between 40 and 70 were tracked by estrogen-based cancer risk. Those who were high-risk had a strong family history of the condition, or else had genetic traits that would contribute to a higher probability of disease. With the drug, their chances of developing breast cancer was slashed by half.

Sure, the idea of using drugs to pack the double-punch of preventing and beating breast cancer isn't new: there are three existing drugs that do just that. But anastrozole looks like it does the job better than its nearest competitor, tamoxifin, whilst causing fewer side effects.But for pre-menopausal women, tamoxifin is still the only drug safe to take for preventative purposes. And tamoxifin is almost as effective as anastrozole, at 50 percent reduction of risk.

However, none of the four drug choices are side-effect free, even anastrozole. The inhibitors in the drugs cause aches and pains, particularly in the joints, and may even weaken the bones. To combat those side effects, though, another new study presented at the same conference says that, even while on the inhibitor drugs, exercise helps reduce pain from breast cancer drugs.

The study's subjects combined supervised cardio, such as walking, with supervised strength training. After one year, women who had been in the exercise program reported a 20 percent decrease in levels of pain from the beginning of the study. Those in the control group, who hadn't exercised, reported three percent.

Both findings are significant, because many women stop taking preventative drugs because of the aches and pains that result from it. With supervised exercise actually showing a decreased level of joint pain, and with anastrozole reducing overall pain altogether, the studies give women a better toolkit for keeping themselves healthy.