Tamoxifen is a product of Teva Pharmaceuticals used in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer in women both in premenopausal and postmenopausal stages in life. Once your doctor prescribes Tamoxifen, you will be required to use it for a long period of time which could even be five years. Others, however, may only be required to take this drug for a lesser period of either two or three years. The use of Tamoxifen causes various side effects especially as a result of the prolonged use. Some of the side effects do not go away even after completion of the dose recommended. Weighing the benefits and the downside of Tamoxifen, it would not be advisable to stop taking a medication which has vital benefits to the user. Some of the benefits associated with taking Tamoxifen include:
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- Reduces breast cancer recurrence risk by 40% in women in postmenopausal stage and by 30% in women in the premenopausal stage.
- The uninfected breast is immune from cancer infection by 50%.
- Tamoxifen reduces the risk of women who are more prone to getting cancer.
Tamoxifen Side Effects Weight Gain
Majority of the people who are under Tamoxifen treatment have reported weight gain as one of the side effects. This has however not been clinically proven and it is possible that the weight gain could be as a result of other reasons some of which are:
- Chemotherapy; women who have gone through chemotherapy have experienced a notable increase in their weight, though a medical reason for this has not been established.
- Hormonal changes; women in postmenopausal stage gain weight as a result of the hormonal changes and not because of any medication they may be taking.
- Long periods of inactivity; people are going through cancer treatment are not as energetic as they were before. For this reason, they are inactive for the most part of the day, leading to weight gain.
- Change in eating habits; cancer diagnosis brings about new cravings even to unhealthy foods which may result in weight gain.
- Other unknown health complications; if there is no other reason for gaining weight, it is possible that you may have other complications like diabetes.
- Stress is also another reason that may lead to an increase in weight.
Side Effects of Tamoxifen After 5 Years
Five years is a long time to have been dependent on a drug and you quit using it; this is because the body is already used to the drug. Tamoxifen is an estrogen-blocking drug and due to prolonged use, it may perform the duties of an estrogen. Withdrawal may lead to side effects that are similar to those of a person going through menopause. Some of these side effects are:
- Depression and mood swings
- Severe hot flushes
- Pain in the joints
- Body pains
- Flu-like feeling
Some studies have revealed that using Tamoxifen for a prolonged period could result in damage to the liver where it becomes fatty or even gets injured. Though these side effects do not happen to all women under Tamoxifen, it is important to be aware that they could happen.
There are various natural means that you can adapt to ease the effects of these effects of withdrawing from Tamoxifen. These are:
- Eat a balanced diet as some of the food groups like proteins will aid in balancing the hormones. Chamomile tea can also help but it should be just warm. Hot chamomile gives way to hot flushes.
- Exercise will help to get you off depression; get up and do it though sometimes your body may say otherwise.
- Use essential oils to massage your body and spray them in the room. The fragrance will really help to raise your mood.
- Get enough sleep to get rid of the fatigue. This is just for some time and it will eventually go away.
- Take supplements especially Omega 3 as it will really help in most of the withdrawal symptoms.
As a result of the not-so-good side effects of using Tamoxifen and the fact that one has to suffer even more after using it for five years, many cancer survivors are looking for an alternative that can stand in for Tamoxifen. Others may develop resistance to Tamoxifen in the process of taking it and have to look for another way to beat cancer. Some of these alternatives are:
- Raloxifene; this drug works in the same way as Tamoxifen as an estrogen inhibitor and is manufactured by Lilly company. Unfortunately, it can only be prescribed to women who are in postmenopausal stage. Women who use this drug are at a higher risk of getting blood clots.
- Anastrozole; this is an aromatase inhibitor which restricts the production of estrogen. Like Raloxifene, it can only be prescribed to women in postmenopausal age. Its manufacturer, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals associates this drug with worsening existing cardiovascular complications, as well as leading to weakening of bones, nausea and allergic reactions.
- Medroxyprogesterone Acetate; it is sold under the brand name Provera and works in the same way as progesterone. The mechanism used by this drug in fighting cancer is not clear though it is thought to cause disruption of estrogen or kill the cancer cells directly. This drug is normally prescribed in cases where one has developed resistance to Tamoxifen. It may lead to mood swings, a higher appetite and may also cause abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Tamoxifen may be associated with many side effects, during and after treatment but we cannot overlook the fact that 50% of the women who have gone through this treatment do not get a cancer recurrence. Due to this, I would still encourage any cancer survivor who wants to have a chance to live cancer free to embrace Tamoxifen. These other drugs that can be prescribed in place of Tamoxifen also have side effects while some cannot be given to women in the pre-menopausal stage. What you need to watch out for is buying original drugs from reliable sources. To assist you in making this choice, we have compiled a list of Top Online Pharmacies where you can be sure you will get original Tamoxifen at a good price.