Treating lung cancer with anti-estrogens may reduce risk of death

Apr 07, 2011

A traditional breast cancer treatment may help prevent death from lung cancer as well.

Anti-estrogens, generally used in the treatment of breast cancer, may also provide health benefits for those suffering from lung cancer, according to a recent article published in the journal Cancer.

The hypothesis was derived from the conclusion of another study, which found that menopausal hormone treatments involving increased intake of estrogen may increase the risk of dying from lung cancer, according to researchers from the Geneva Cancer Registry. They assumed that the opposite must be true of anti-estrogen medicines and set to work analyzing 6,655 breast cancer patients in their database, noting whether they were undergoing anti-estrogen therapy.

Researchers also tracked the medical histories of these patients between 1980 and 2003 to determine if they developed lung cancer and the subsequent mortality rates after development.

Over time, 40 women developed lung cancer, but fewer women treated with anti-estrogen medicines died than anticipated by researchers, and 87 percent fewer women undergoing the treatment died than those whose breast cancer was being treated through other avenues. According to researchers, "estrogen therapy modifies lung cancer prognosis."

Even with the prospect of new treatments, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. As a result, those at risk for the disease may be charged higher life insurance premiums.  

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