T Nation

Tamoxifen & Side Effects For Women

Hey, I have been on tamoxifen since March and have been experiencing some severe side effects. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on how to combat them or if guys even get the same side effects from taking it?

I am taking it post breast cancer and since I am pre menopausal and my tumor was estrogen positive, its the only drug I can take that’s FDA approved at this time.

Side effects: weight gain, chronic fatigue, mood swings, low body temp, hair falling out, joint and muscle pain and trouble sleeping.

Background: I am a 35 y/o female, double mastectomy in Feb for breast cancer, no chemo, no radiation. Have to be on the tamoxifen for 5 years. I am still training but find that the fatigue and muscle pain really mess with the intensity of my workouts. I would really like to get back to competitive figure competitions and soon.

Saw my naturopath on Friday and he suggested high doses of Folic Acid, Holy Basil and Citracidal. I’ve taken to taking a short nap (30-45 minutes) after work just to get things done around the house (like cooking meals).

Any suggestions or help would be appreciated.

Damn I wish I knew what to tell you besides hang tough.

Hopefully one of the Docs that rummage round here or possibbly Cy or someone in the know will be able to give you some insight.

Sounds like your body is simply PISSED at the E. being blocked/suppressed. Hormones just play such a HUGE riole in these thing It might be soimething that you have to wiork with an endoctrinologist (sp)with to get a balance.

I dont know in your case actually getting extra phytoestrogens form say soy and flax etc, may be of benefit. I am far from sure though just something to maybe look into or ask someone whop would know about.

Good luck, I hope you get this worked out,

Stay strong and let us know how yoiu progress,

Phill

Phil~
Thanks so much for your reply. I can’t do HRT and shouldn’t be eating soy according to my doc. The whole idea behind blocking the estrogen is that they hope to suppress another cancer from forming. Which, of course, is a good thing.

The fact that its messing with my training, not a good thing. Ugh.

You might want to do a thorough search on tamoxifen and make sure the benefits outweigh the risks. I found this page, which is obviously against the use of tamoxifen for pre-menopausal women, http://www.all-natural.com/tamox.html , but it has good information that is referenced at the bottom of the page.

Seriously, do a lot of investigation before deciding whether to take this drug long-term. Most docs just get all their drug information from the drug companies themselves.

Thanks for the input! I have done tons of research on the subject, there isn’t much out there on how to combat the side effects though. Taking the tamoxifen increases my chances of survival without another cancer for 10 years by 12%. That’s a big number to consider when thinking about not taking the drug… If the side effects continue, I will definitely be talking to my oncologist about getting off this drug though.

BTW, that was a great link you sent!

Man thats a shitter. Yes I was thinking about the soy etc after that and realize yes thats the very thing you are trying to block. So you would be just raising your cahnces at having another bad reaction. DAMN IT!!

The Tamoxifen from my understanding is a blocker at the receptor level and not so much like A-Dex which actually wipes it out, a suicide inhibitor I think they call it which most likely would cause you even greater probs.

Boy Clomid while not for Breat Cancer per say does have a similar blocking effect as Tamoxifen, not quite as strong but is and can be used to combat Gyno while on AAS in a bit higher doses may be worth looking inot and bringing up.

Once again Wishing you the best anbd hope you get something worked out.

I don’t have anything to offer as I really don’t know much about the compound you are asking about, so I’m just wishing ya well!

[quote]Phill wrote:
Man thats a shitter. Yes I was thinking about the soy etc after that and realize yes thats the very thing you are trying to block. So you would be just raising your cahnces at having another bad reaction. DAMN IT!!

The Tamoxifen from my understanding is a blocker at the receptor level and not so much like A-Dex which actually wipes it out, a suicide inhibitor I think they call it which most likely would cause you even greater probs.

Boy Clomid while not for Breat Cancer per say does have a similar blocking effect as Tamoxifen, not quite as strong but is and can be used to combat Gyno while on AAS in a bit higher doses may be worth looking inot and bringing up.

Once again Wishing you the best anbd hope you get something worked out.

[/quote]

I’m surprised they started you right off on Tamoxifen, as it is the strongest aromatase inhibitor that blocks estrogen from estrogen receptors. There are several drugs out there that are very comparable to the way that Tamoxifen acts on the body, Danazol, and I believe Bicalutamide (sorry I have no idea on how to spell that)…I would ask your doctors about other anti-estrogen’s that can be used…By the way, Arimidex is not a “suicide inhibitor,” it simply uses a different mechanism of action to block the estrogen…Hope I was of some help…Again, talking to your doctors should really be your plan of action…

It would be best to discuss these side effects with your oncologist. It sounds as if it’s really interfering with things so I would talk about the dosage as well as other alternative compounds, for off-label use.

[quote]OneDay wrote:
Phill wrote:
Man thats a shitter. Yes I was thinking about the soy etc after that and realize yes thats the very thing you are trying to block. So you would be just raising your cahnces at having another bad reaction. DAMN IT!!

The Tamoxifen from my understanding is a blocker at the receptor level and not so much like A-Dex which actually wipes it out, a suicide inhibitor I think they call it which most likely would cause you even greater probs.

Boy Clomid while not for Breat Cancer per say does have a similar blocking effect as Tamoxifen, not quite as strong but is and can be used to combat Gyno while on AAS in a bit higher doses may be worth looking inot and bringing up.

Once again Wishing you the best anbd hope you get something worked out.

I’m surprised they started you right off on Tamoxifen, as it is the strongest aromatase inhibitor that blocks estrogen from estrogen receptors. There are several drugs out there that are very comparable to the way that Tamoxifen acts on the body, Danazol, and I believe Bicalutamide (sorry I have no idea on how to spell that)…I would ask your doctors about other anti-estrogen’s that can be used…By the way, Arimidex is not a “suicide inhibitor,” it simply uses a different mechanism of action to block the estrogen…Hope I was of some help…Again, talking to your doctors should really be your plan of action…[/quote]

Tamoxifen is not an aromatase inhibitor, rather an estrogen antagonist.

Bicalutamide is an androgen antagonist used in prostate cancer, not breast cancer.

I agree very much though, the best approach is to discuss the side effects with her physician.

Thanks guys! I just thought someone here might have some personal insight as my doctor has never taken tamoxifen and I have read about others on here taking it. I will talk to my oncologist next month. I fear what he will do is prescribe other meds to combat the side effects, in turn, causing more side effects. Guess that’s just going to have to be the deal for now

Well, I hardly think one needs to have taken a drug to understand the side effects, but I would doubt that your doctor would prescribe medications to treat just the symptoms cause most of the side effects you mentionned would be pretty hard to treat, like the weight gain (which does not seem to be associated with the SERM), hairloss (which is like menoposal hairloss because of reduced estrogen, which you are experiencing earlier but would probably have happened to some extent, there is Rogain, but that’s a bitch for compliance…the hairloss is supposed to plateau with continued treatment), chronic fatigue (nothing for that) and the low body temp is possibly linked to the lack of energy, (maybe you could be hypothyroid who knows, but E blockage could well cause this).

For the trouble sleeping and the joint pains, he might well take a wait an see approach, to see if they might resolve themselves. ( Menopause-like symptomes induced by the blocked estrogen do include insomnia.) So if these symptoms have a significant impact on you life, he might have to prescribe some NSAIDs for the pain (should that remain) and/or various hypnotics.

When you say you fear that the other meds will only cause more side-effects we have to look at 2 things. 1) It is not certain you would have side-effects with these other meds and 2)These side effects, should they arise would probably be far less troublesome than insomnia and joint/muscle pain.

So, since you can’t stop the medication, each of the side effects becomes a problem in its own right and if you can’t treat the root cause, you’d have to go for the next best thing.

I am trying to figure out what the natural remedies are supposed to help with.

Folic acid is probably for the fatigue but that would only work if you were suffering from megaloblastic anemia, which probably would have been looked into before your surgeries.

The holy basil has been looked into in some animal research to have some anti-inflammatory effects, specifically which ones are not yet known (arachidonic, leukotriene or cyclooxygenase pathways, some say its a potent COX-2 inhibiter, like Vioxx, Celebrex and the likes, which is not something you want to go into for the longterm, with the slight increase in heart disease), nothing clinical yet, so it could not work, we don’t know the dose that would and we don’t know its side effects and the stuff in the store might not even contain the active ingredient in the bottle.

As for the Grapefruit seed extract (Citracidal) , besides having some anti-microbial activity and being and anti-oxydant, like you would get from cinnamon, tea and many, many, many other compounds, I don’t really see its purpose in your symptoms. (at least green tea and cinnamon have proven cholesterol and glycemia lowering habilities).

Always be weary of the naturopaths, I have yet to find one who actually knew something…principally because there is no research behind most of the stuff that is being sold and therefore you can’t know, however our knowledge of ‘‘herbal’’ remedies has been rapidely increasing in the last few years (more and more studies are coming out). Most of the stuff is still crap with no significant active compound in it but some things are starting showing real promise. Just don’t be fooled by cure-all, ‘‘natural’’ remedies with no side-effects.

I wish you the best,
AlexH
Then there’s always HOT-ROX!

Alex~

The Folic Acid and the Citracidel are both for hypothyroid and adrenal support as both systems are struggling. As for using a naturopath, my medical doctors all agree that using natural remedies helped in my recovery. Yes, the side effects stink right now, I was just wondering if it was the same for guys who took it for recreational reasons and if they found anything to counteract the effects.

Oncologist will send me to a rheumatologist for the joint pain, according to his nurse. For the hot flashes and some of the other symptoms, he will prescribe anti depressants. I just don’t think that’s the course I wanted to go.

As for the Holy Basil… it helps with the menopausal symptoms including the weight gain according to my naturopath. I will keep you posted on the progress :slight_smile:

Thanks again, you guys have been really awesome on an area that isn’t the “norm” for T-Nation… but as more T-Vixens hit the boards, I’m sure the information gained will come in handy!

Hot AZ,

In all honesty, I have not seen anything related to hypothyroidism and adrenal support and folic acid and grapefruit extracts in respectable medical litterature. I have found some info on highly dubious websites but the investigated effects of both these compounds are clearly not into the two systems (adrenal or thyroid)

Should you be really hypothyroid, you might want to skip on the Holy Basil since a study found that it had some anti-thyroid effect (reducing T4 levels) in mice and might be investigated for hyperthyroid states. So that might be quite counter-productive. (If you were hypothyroid, I would have expected some thyroid medication)

As for the adrenal support, is that based on low/high cortisol, aldosterone or adrenaline?

As for recreational use in the guys here, the low levels of E naturally present that are blocked shouldn’t induce any noticable effects. I have not personnaly experienced any of those effects that you mention even at 5 times the normal dose for a couple of weeks.

I am really not anti-herbs or anything, its just that most of the time naturopaths base their recommandations on what’s basically thin air, so I prefer to scourge medical publications myself.

A recent study comparing Paroxetine and St-John’s wort seemed to indicate that St-John’s wort might be as or more effective than paroxetine at reducing depression symptoms. (It probably has some side effects still). So that might be something you might want to look into if you prefer ‘‘natural’’ stuff.

AlexH

Alex~

Thanks again, I will continue to research. There is a really good book written by MD’s called How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine. Its a great book if you ever decide to research natural “cures”. While I won’t ever do just natural medicine, I have to admit I don’t trust traditional medicine much. I had a medical doctor tell me that “sometimes people just bleed, come back in 6 months”. Less than a month later I had a positive diagnosis of cancer from another doctor who took my case seriously!

Again, I can only go on what I have read and what my doctors (both traditional and naturopathic) have told me. I, myself, am not a medical practitioner but I research everything before any procedures or new supplements enter my body :slight_smile:

I think you and I could have a great conversation sometime… any chance you’re coming to AZ for Staley’s bootcamp next month?

I wouldn’t go taking any supplements or doing anything to you dosages without talking to your Oncologist. This is too heavy of a situation to go doing things which could affect your ability to recover to your fullest.

They have other drugs which are similar, like Evista, but if I’m not mistaken you can’t switch in the middle of your recovery. Either way, I’m sure your doctor or someone with a medical degree should be the only one you consult over something so critical.

Meatwad

[quote]Meatwad8 wrote:
I wouldn’t go taking any supplements or doing anything to you dosages without talking to your Oncologist. This is too heavy of a situation to go doing things which could affect your ability to recover to your fullest.

They have other drugs which are similar, like Evista, but if I’m not mistaken you can’t switch in the middle of your recovery. Either way, I’m sure your doctor or someone with a medical degree should be the only one you consult over something so critical.

Meatwad[/quote]

Couldn’t agree with you more, and specialists usually know their stuff.

(Not saying that family practitioners don’t, just that it seems easier to know a lot about a little than to know a good deal about everything).

But from the tone of her post, I doubt she would do anything too stupid like listening to us!

Good Evening,
AlexH