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Breast density may be key Ca risk factor

Tamoxifen may cut the risk of breast cancer by reducing breast density, according to UK researchers.

A study examined changes in breast density among women at high risk of breast cancer taking tamoxifen as a chemopreventive.

At the start of the trial breast densities among women taking tamoxifen and women taking placebo were the same – but after 18 months of treatment, a greater reduction was seen in the tamoxifen group.

After 54 months, breast density was reduced by 13.7 per cent to 28.2 per cent in women taking tamoxifen compared with a reduction of 7.3 per cent to 35.3 per cent in the placebo group.

Professor Stephen Duffy, professor of cancer screening at Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, said there were two important implications. 'One is that breast density is a big risk factor and if we can change it by hormonal treatment we might be able to use breast density as a criterion for use of preventive drugs. Another is that it might also be a good early warning.'

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