Anti-estrogen drugs used for breast cancer reduce lung cancer deaths

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Anti-estrogen drugs,could lower the chances of women dying from lung cancer, finds new research,

Past findings suggest a woman's chances of dying from lung cancer increase from taking post menopausal hormone therapy that raise estrogen levels in the body.

The study authors speculated since estrogen therapy boosts the chances of dying from lung cancer, anti-estrogen drugs might lower the chances. For the study, researchers compared lung cancer incidence and death rates with and without anti-estrogen therapy that is used to treat breast cancer.

The researchers looked at 655 women who diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2003 and registered at the Geneva Cancer Registry. Of those, 46 percent had received drugs that block estrogen.


The study authors used Standardized Incidence Ratios (SIRs) and Standardized Mortality Ratios (SMRs) to compare lung cancer deaths in the two groups. They found a lower incidence of lung cancer deaths among the women given anti-estrogen drugs.

Elisabetta Rapiti, MD, of the Geneva Cancer Registry who led a study says "Our results support the hypothesis that there is a hormonal influence on lung cancer which has been suggested by findings such as the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in a substantial proportion of lung cancers, If prospective studies confirm our results and find that anti-estrogen agents improve lung cancer outcomes, this could have substantial implications for clinical practice," she added.

The findings show drugs that block estrogen could have a new role for reducing the chances of lung cancer deaths. In the study, the women were followed until December, 2007.

The anti-estrogen therapy given to women treated for breast cancer reduced the rate of lung cancer mortality by 87 percent, compared to the general population. During the study period, 40 women developed the disease.

Cancer: DOI: 10.1002/cncr.25638