Tocotrienols boost the ability of Tamoxifen to fight breast cancer and improves survival

March 20, 2014

Tocotrienols boost the ability of Tamoxifen to fight breast cancer and improves survival

Previous studies indicated that tocotrienols boost the breast cancer fighing effects of tamoxifen in vivo. In this pilot clinical trial, which is the first of this nature, women with primary estrogen receptor--positive breast cancer were given a combination of tamoxifen and also tocotrienol capsules for 5 years, and a second group was given tamoxifen with placebo capsules.

Malaysian researchers conducted the double-blinded, placebo-controlled pilot trial by enrolling two-hundred-forty women, aged between 40 and 60 years, with either tumor node metastases (TNM) Stage I or II breast cancer and estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors, into one of the two groups.

Interestingly, the risk of dying due to breast cancer decreased by 70% in patients taking the combination of tocotrienol and tamoxifen compared with the patients only receiving tamoxifen. The risk of recurrence was also 20% lower in those receiving tocotrienol along with tamoxifen compared with the control group which only received placebo plus tamoxifen.

One of the parameters that were studied over the 5 years was the levels of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) between the two groups of patients. A higher level of IFN-γ indicates an enhancement of the immune response. This was found to be significantly elevated in the treatment group given both tocotrienols and tamoxifen compared with the placebo group. The numbers needed to treat (NNT) is an indication of the effectiveness of the intervention. From this study, the NNT, which was 30, indicated that the combined treatment of tocotrienol and tamoxifen may prevent one patient in every 30 from dying due to breast cancer. Therefore, these results suggest that the synergistic effect of tocotrienols and tamoxifen might contribute to the lower risk of dying and recurrence of breast cancer. The study is published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Source material; Effectiveness of tocotrienol-rich fraction combined with tamoxifen in the management of women with early breast cancer: a pilot clinical trial.

Nesaretnam K, Selvaduray KR, Abdul Razak G, Veerasenan SD, Gomez PA
Breast Cancer Res. 2010; 12(5):R81.