Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bone drug fails to prevent breast cancer recurrence

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27 December 2011

UK Edition

Dear Reader,

A couple of months ago, news broke that a bone drug could keep cancer from coming back.

It was a big boost to makers of zoledronic acid, marketed as Zometa. A study presented at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress made new headlines for the drug, which is already given to cancer patients to protect against the effects of secondary bone cancer. The headline? "Zoledronic Acid Reduces the Recurrence of Breast Cancer in Post-Menopausal Women, Study Finds."

But then, less than 24 hours later, another story hit the wires. This time, variations on quite a different headline were popping up on news sites: "Bone Drug Fails to Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrence: Study."

In fact, an article extolling the cancer-preventing virtues of the drug had disappeared completely from one news site.

So, what in the world was going on?

The study involved 3,360 women with stage II/III breast cancer. The women were randomized to receive different treatments: chemo and/or endocrine therapy, with or without the addition of zoledronic acid. When the data was analysed, researchers found overall there was no clinical benefit to the addition of the drug.

I guess they REALLY wanted to find a benefit. And they were able to squeeze one out. According to one researcher, "For the one third of women in the study who had gone fully through menopause at the time of study entry, there is significant benefit in terms of both disease recurrence and overall survival."

Researchers called it a "small but significant increase." It was decided that there was a "high level of evidence" of the benefit of adding zoledronic acid to early breast cancer treatment.

What the first story didn't reveal, but the second wave did, is that adding zoledronic acid to breast cancer treatment could actually raise the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. That's a severe disease in which jawbone tissue dies. Among trial participants using Zometa, there were 17 confirmed cases and another 9 suspected cases. Nobody in the control group (women who were not taking the bone drug) ended up with the disease.

The recommendation? That zoledronic acid should NOT be used routinely in treatment of the disease. That's quite a switch from the previous day's excitement, isn't it?

In fact, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society offered these comments: "We had hoped that zoledronic acid would harden bone and reduce the rate of metastatic disease," he said. "We had also hoped this would increase survival. Neither occurred."

Now, can you imagine a similar switcheroo about a supplement? "Experts" would be discussing lies and deception, berating the supplement makers... and probably the entire industry... for pulling the wool over people's eyes. Not quietly replacing one news story with a new one, acting as if the first had never happened.

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone's personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

Wishing you the best of health,

Andrew Miller
UK Editor
Nutrition and Healing

P.S. In the latest issue of Nutrition & Healing, Dr. Wright will tell you how to beat back the common cold with an ordinary mineral... You'll also learn about the latest ground-breaking research that has uncovered a cervical cancer breakthrough... PLUS we'll share the remarkable story of a lady called Evelyn, who recovered from macular degeneration with "...no drugs, no surgery..."

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"Zoledronic Acid Reduces the Recurrence of Breast Cancer in Post-Menopausal Women, Study Finds," Science Daily (sciencedaily.com)

"Bone Drug Fails to Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrence: Study," Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com)

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