Hormonal chemoprevention of cancer in women

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Science  29 Jan 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5095, pp. 633-638
DOI: 10.1126/science.8381558


The use of oral contraceptives in the United States during the past three decades has led to a dramatic decline in the incidence of cancers of the ovary and endometrium. The magnitude of these declines was predictable both from epidemiologic data and from the biologic effects of oral contraceptives on these tissues. Although the incidence of breast cancer has not been substantially affected by current oral contraceptives, it may be possible to develop alternative forms of contraception that provide protection against all three cancers. The major goal of hormonal chemoprevention of cancer is to reduce cell proliferation in the relevant epithelial tissue. New chemopreventive agents such as tamoxifen exemplify the application of this principle.