Wednesday Bubble: Just say “no”

Posted by on Feb 25, 2009 in bone health, breast cancer, hot flash, HRT, nightsweats | 4 comments

Gonna burst that hormone bubble at least one more time. Seems that the synthetic hormone Livial, which is billed as an alternative to HRT, significantly increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Ouch!

Livial is a selective tissue estrogenic regulator (SERM), which mimics estrogen’s activity with regards to strengthening bones. The agent has mostly been marketed in Europe for treatment of hot flashes, night sweats and bone loss, as well as a treatment for osteoporosis.

In a study reported in the current issue of The Lancet Oncology, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of 2.5 mg/day of Livial compared to placebo  in more than 3,000 women with a history of breast cancer. Although the agent had a positive effect symptoms and bone density, the trial was stopped six months early because women taking Livial had a 40% increased risk of having their breast cancer return.

The researchers state that the likely reason for this increase is that Livial interferes with the protective effect of different cancer drugs and might stimulate dormant tumors to become active again.

Clearly, Livial should not be used in women with a history of breast cancer. Then again, with data definitively showing an increased risk of cancer and heart disease with use of hormone therapy, why take a chance to begin with?

What are your thoughts? Is estrogen worth the risk for a few less symptoms? Or are you better off taking an alternative route?


  1. 2-25-2009

    Can they please get all this shit figured out in the next few years please? Before I need it? It completely confuses me. What are we supposed to do?

  2. 2-25-2009

    Twenty-Four: Personally, I’ve gone the integrative route with a mixture of standardized herbs, chinese herbal medicine and topical progesterone.It’s pretty much cut off my night sweats and allowed me to function. I’d recommend that you speak to a practitioner who is well versed/certified in alternative therapies to explore your options.

  3. 2-27-2009

    Liz, Have you seen much research about DHEA with respect to symptom control and safety? I’ve heard many people use this in place of HT, with or without progesterone, for hot flushes and for improved libido.

  4. 2-27-2009

    Emily – I don’t have much experience with DHEA nor have I read any relevant studies but I’ll certainly do some research. Thank you for the comment!

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