Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Study Shows No Stroke Risk With Tamoxifen

But Older Women Getting Chemotherapy Should Be Monitored for Stroke
WebMD Health News

Oct. 19, 2004 -- New research shows no increased risk of stroke from taking tamoxifen. However, older women taking chemotherapy should be watched closely for stroke symptoms, researchers say.

The paper appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

It comes on the heels of research published just a week ago: A study found an opposite conclusion, a small but real stroke risk among women taking tamoxifen.

In that study, researchers analyzed nine previous studies and showed that tamoxifen was associated with an 82% increase in ischemic (clot-related) stroke risk and a 28% increase in risk for all strokes.

This newest study found no link between tamoxifen and stroke -- no matter how long patients took tamoxifen, how recently, or how big the dosage was, reports lead researcher Ann M. Geiger, MD, with Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena.

However, she did not report such good news regarding chemotherapy.

Tamoxifen, Chemo: Looking for Stroke Risk

Though tamoxifen is known to decrease the risk of breast cancer, one specific concern with tamoxifen has been its potential association with blood clots -- particularly whether or not it can increase the risk of a stroke.

In their study, Geiger and her colleagues thoroughly analyzed medical, hospital, and death records for 179 breast cancer patients who had suffered strokes. The average age of the women was 67.

They compared the data with similar records for breast cancer patients who had not suffered a stroke.

Women taking tamoxifen did not have higher stroke risk, Geiger reports. However, chemotherapy did increase stroke risk, although researchers could not pinpoint the specific type of chemotherapy causing this risk.

Women who had received chemotherapy were two to three times more likely to have stroke.

Women with a history of high blood pressure or diabetes and who were taking medication to treat those health problems had the highest risk, she writes.

It's not clear what's happening with chemotherapy to increase stroke risk, she writes. Their breast cancer may be more aggressive, triggering artery damage and blood clots. Also, drugs used with chemotherapy might somehow increase stroke risk.

"Our study suggests that women and their [doctors] considering tamoxifen for breast cancer can do so without concern for stroke," Geiger writes. Any risk from chemotherapy must be "balanced against the life-extending benefits of chemotherapy."

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow