Tamoxifen reduces plasma homocysteine levels in healthy women

M. Cattaneo, L. Baglietto, M. L. Zighetti, D. Bettega, C. Robertson, A. Costa, P. M. Mannucci, A. Decensi

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Treatment with tamoxifen is associated with reduced incidence of myocardial infarction. As plasma homocysteine is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, we studied the effects of tamoxifen on plasma homocysteine in 66 healthy women participating in the Italian prevention trial of breast cancer who were randomized in a double-blind manner to tamoxifen 20 mg day-1 or placebo for 5 years. They were aged between 35 and 70 years, had undergone previous hysterectomy for non-malignant conditions and had no contraindications to the use of tamoxifen. Plasma levels of total homocysteine (tHcy) were measured at randomization and after 2 and 6 months. The mean ± s.d. plasma levels of tHcy were 7.59 ± 1.71 μmol l-1, 7.25 ± 1.61 and 7.09 ± 1.33 in the tamoxifen group and 8.07 ± 2.06, 7.93 ± 1.77 and 8.12 ± 2.04 in the placebo group at 0, 2 and 6 months (P = 0.008 for the between-group difference over time). The higher the baseline tHcy level, the greater was the lowering effect of tamoxifen. No statistically significant effect of age, body mass index or smoking habit on baseline tHcy levels and its variation over time was found. In conclusion, tamoxifen (20 mg day-1 for 6 months) decreased plasma tHcy levels in healthy women. This effect may contribute to its protective effect on myocardial infarction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2264-2266
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chemoprevention
  • Homocysteine
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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