Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs


Photo courtesy of MorgueFile and Aidairi
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile and Aidairi

Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs

Every single day I am contacted by women who are either going through breast cancer treatments or have finished their treatments and have been prescribed estrogen blocking drugs like tamoxifen (Nolvadex), anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), letrozole (Femara), raloxifene (Evista).

Many of these drugs are also known as aromatase inhibitors because they deactive a key enzyme (aromatase) that is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogen.

Why Women Are Prescribed Hormone Blockers

A breast tumor is called “estrogen receptor positive” or “ER+” if it has receptors for estrogen – this suggests that the cancer cells, like normal breast cells, may receive signals from the hormone estrogen that could promote their growth.  The cancer is termed “progesterone receptor positive” or “PR+” if it has progesterone receptors.  Again, this means that the cancer cells may receive signals from progesterone that could promote their growth. According to BreastCancer.org, roughly two out of every three breast cancers test positive for hormone receptors.

The women who are contacting me are very concerned about the side effects of such medications, they are researching and wanting to know more and they are wondering if there are any natural products that will do the same job without the side effects.

My Personal History

I went through breast cancer in 2004.  If you’d like to read my whole story, check out my Breast Cancer Diary page.  Briefly, however, I had a 2.5 cm tumor, about the size of an olive, and it was a rapidly growing tumor known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma.  I had a large lumpectomy and a latissimus-dorsi flap reconstruction.  I was recommended to have chemotherapy right away, but being a natural therapist I needed to be convinced of the necessity of that, so I went home to heal up and work on my immune system.  Eventually both my oncologist and my natural therapists convinced me that it would be beneficial for me to undergo chemotherapy and I did 6 months worth.  I chose not to have radiation for various reasons, and although both my oncologist and my regular doctor tried hard to get me to say yes to the hormone blocking drugs, I just could not be convinced that this was a good route for me to follow.  For one thing, I was progesterone receptor positive only, which is somewhat unusual.  I couldn’t see how tamoxifen, which is used as an estrogen-blocker, was going to help me since I was PR+.  My doctors argued it would “still have some therapeutic benefit.”  I wasn’t convinced, and especially when I read about the side effects of these drugs.  Instead I went home and went into deep research mode.  Here’s what I found.

1.  Some research indicated that tamoxifen was more useful in elderly and frail women and it removed the need for surgery in a high proportion of those women. (Akhtar SS, et al.  A 10-year experience of tamoxifen as primary treatment of breast cancer in 100 elderly and frail patients.  Eur J Surg Oncol. 1991; 17:30-5.)

2.  The Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen studied 3,500 post-menopausal women who received surgery for breast cancer. About half of these patients were considered to be low risk and received no further treatment.  The high risk patients received either radiotherapy or radiotherapy plus tamoxifen.  After about 8 years, the scientists looked at the incidence of cancer in these women.  All 3 groups had more cancer than the general population and for those who had received radiotherapy there was a higher incidence of leukemia.  There was no difference in cancer incidence in the high risk group that  received tamoxifen plus radiotherapy compared to those who just received radiotherapy, indicating that tamoxifen did not confer any special protective effects.  In fact, there was a tendency to an elevated risk of endometrial cancer. (Andersson M, et al. Incidence of new primary cancers after adjuvant tamoxifen therapy and radiotherapy for early breast cancer: J Natl Cancer Inst. 1991; 83:1013-7.)

3. The McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research of the University of Wisconsin studied rats given tamoxifen.  At first, all appeared okay, but when the rats were also given a small dose of chemicals and then fed tamoxifen, the livers of these animals showed an increase in the size and number of altered liver lesions compared with the animals that had been fed the chemicals but not the tamoxifen.  The researchers felt that tamoxifen acts as a tumor promoter in the rat liver, that it was four times the strength of phenobarbital (a drug commonly used as a representative promoting agent in experimental carcinogenesis). (Dragan YP, et al. Tumor promotion as a target for estrogen/anti-estrogen effects in rat hepatocarcinogenesis. Prev Med. 1991; 20:15-26).

4.  There were too many disturbing reports of eye damage from the use of tamixofen.  In one article that appeared in the Annals of Ophthalmology, I read about toxicity to the cornea, retina and optic nerve.  And though it seemed that the damage did not progress once the drug was stopped, it could not be repaired. (Gerner EW. Ocular toxicity of tamoxifen. Annals of Ophthalmology 1989; 21:420-3).  I had enough problems with my vision, I certainly didn’t need any more.

I could go on and on here, citing all of the research that I did – and yes this research is a little older, I went through breast cancer in 2004, as I mentioned. 

Possible Side Effects of Hormone Blocking Drugs

The list of possible side effects of these drugs is lengthy:  hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headaches, muscle, joint and body aches, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, changes in bowel habits, muscle weakness, fatigue, increased risk of liver cancer, precancerous changes in the uterus, blood clots which could travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism or a stroke, cataracts and other vision changes. 

I just wasn’t willing to submit my body to any of that.

It’s Time To Wake Up

What I am seeing as a breast cancer coach is a large quantity of women (more than I ever thought possible) who have taken the hormone blockers for the prescribed length of time (usually 5 years) and are coming to me with a new breast cancer.

We need to wake up people!  These drugs are not working.  They are toxic to our bodies and there are better ways of regaining our health.  The thing is, you can’t just say no and do nothing else.  You really need to be very pro-active with your health.  If you don’t know what to do, feel free to sign up for my e-books and newsletters, I provide them as a free service to people going through breast cancer and I share all of my best tips and information in them (see the sign-up form on the right side of this page).

It’s Not All About Estrogen!

I have said this so many times lately, it’s starting to become my slogan.  Estrogen is a hormone we want and need in our bodies.  The doctors are so focused on the fact that there are estrogen receptors on our breast cancer cells but part of the problem is that there are synthetic estrogens in our body products, our drinking water, our cosmetics, our environment, and these are part of the problem with our health (see my article Protect Yourself From Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance).

In her book “Molecules of Emotion“, author and scientist Candace Pert shares with us “… accumulated environmental pollutants within our bodies are mimicking and disrupting the action of our sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — which run the male and female reproductive systems.”  She goes on to state that “A recent report on receptor binding in Science, for example, has shown that environmental toxins have estrogenlike effects and bind to estrogen receptors, where they can stimulate breast cancer tumor growth.  Similarly, various toxins can act like testosterone in the male body and stimulate prostate cancer, which is embryologically similar to breast cancer.  Although this has been suspected for a long time, only recently have we gotten the hard proof that accumulation of these toxins in our bodies chronically stimulates our estrogen and testosterone receptors, putting them into a state of overdrive and leading to cancer.”

There are many other factors which put us at a higher risk for breast cancer, and right up there at the top of the list is STRESS.  You can do little to avoid it but you certainly can change the way that you react to it.  Try meditation to relieve that stress.  Get yourself into a meditation group, or if you live in a remote area download my meditation course.

I also believe that it’s vitally important to build up your immune system to be as strong and healthy as it can be, since our immune system is our first line of defense against cancer cells.  Why don’t the doctors tell you that?  Any natural therapist certainly will.  Have a look at my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.  How important are these 8 items?  I believe they’re absolutely crucial.   Give proper attention to each of the 8 items on the list and you will be much happier and healthier than if you are taking toxic drug therapies.





Cancer Therapy, The Independent Consumer’s Guide To Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention by Ralph W Moss, PhD.

Molecules of Emotion by Candace B Pert, PhD.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!


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19 thoughts on “Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs

  1. Thank you, Marnie. I am headed in to have this challenging discussion with my oncologist in Friday. After my first 4 months of Tamoxifen this year, I stopped taking it. I am young, and so am advised that no protection is ill advised. I am struggling to weigh the quality of life with risk of recurrence equation. I had strong effects from Tamoxifen that seemed to intensify over time. When I went off, I was a completely different (happy) person. Certainly, much to consider…your insights and reference materials are so helpful!

    1. Kim,
      I thank you for your comment – and I don’t envy you that decision. It’s a hard one. Just be aware that if you do decide against it, you will need to be extremely pro-active with a few key lifestyle changes, but they are quite do-able. I highly recommend working on your immune system and making it bullet proof! Suggestions on how to do that are on my website, but if you need special help and attention, just ask!

  2. Marnie,
    I am really happy that I stumbled across your blog post on WhatNext. I am facing the Tamoxifen decision right now. I’ve told my Oncologist that I didn’t think I wanted it, but I am getting a second opinion as well. My medical team was good at medicine, but I didn’t get nearly the amount of information necessary to help me deal with my diagnosis. I have gone through this BC thing largely alone, so it’s wonderful to find so much helpful information in one place. I will do more research on the Vitamin D supplements that you wrote about in your other article, and download your free material. My goal is to avoid this experience again at all costs. Now I don’t feel so lost in that goal. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kindra,
      Thanks for your comments. I am so sorry you have had to journey through this mainly by yourself – that’s the main reason I put my website out there in the world because too many are still having to face all of these hard life-changing questions without sufficient information to make those decisions. I would be happy to help you at any point, so just ask. Did you get my free e-book and newsletter subscription?
      Sending hugs,

  3. I’m really happy to have come across your website after spending the last 48 hours trying to decide whether I can cope with tamoxifen and (for some women) it’s horrendous side effects. After researching I can clearly see I was not given nearly enough information to make an informed choice. I was given my prescription 10 days ago but a little voice was telling me not to take it.

    That little voice was right and having read your website my decision is to have radiotherapy and get my life back with nothing else to do but to change my lifestyle including my diet.

    Thank you

    1. Dear Susan,
      Listening to that little voice is always a good thing to do! I’m glad you did, and glad that you found my website to be useful to you.

      I strongly believe that by following an anti-cancer diet (see my page Diet and Cancer for recommendations), the use of some very particular supplements to boost immunity, by removing much of the stress from your life, and by getting rid of the household and chemical toxins we put on our skin – all of these things will help you greatly in your wellness quest. Tamoxifen or other hormone blockers are always recommended – it is the oncologist’s standard of duty of care to recommend it (regardless of whether they believe it works or not). I happen to believe there are much better, less toxic ways to regain your breast health and wellness than by taking these toxic drugs.

      Have you signed up for my free e-books and newsletters? You can do that from any page on my site. I will be glad to help you as much or as little as you are comfortable with.
      Warmest regards,

  4. Dear marnie I just discovered your blog, and I think u r amazing.my first encounter with breast cancer was in 2004 followed by lumpectomy, radiotherapy and tamoxifen. Then I had a recurrence in2011, I than had left mastectomy and chemotherapy and again I was advised to take tamoxifen, which I strongly refused.I had taken it for five years earlier, and had suffered so many side effects eg terrible joint pains , fatigue, weak eyesight. Now i take flaxseed and turmeric on regular basis. Irecently read an article saying that fructose isbad for cancer , I want to know if eating fruits is right or not.I will really appreciate your advice. Thank you . Tasneem

    1. Hi Tasneem,
      Thanks for your comments. I think you are amazing too! It takes a lot of courage to go against what the doctors are telling you. I think it’s clear that these drugs are not working as well as they would like to have us believe and the side effects are heinous. I’m glad to hear that you are opting for natural medicine. Have you signed up for my free newsletters and e-books about how to heal from breast cancer and keeping recurrences away? I share lots of great information in them. Re your question about fruit sugar, my best advice is that if you have an active cancer in your body, you should definitely curb your fruit intake. If you are cancer free and just working to prevent cancer, whole fruits are very protective and full of anti-cancer nutrients. Definitely include them.
      Hope this helps!
      Warmest regards,

  5. Hi Marnie, I too am so happy that I stumbled across your blog researching Essentail Oils and Hormone Blockers. I was do with ILC on May 31st 2013 and staged at a 3C, I had a BLM and did the recommended course of chemo and radiation and was givin Arimidex as my 1st hormone blocker last July after completing my radiation. I had the usual side effects, hot flashe, headache, joint pain etc…. I was then changed to Tamoxifen and then eventually to Letrozole last October. I am a very active 52 old and the SE’S recently have begun to cripple my hands, ankles and almost all my joints are severely affected and 4-5 days ago I could barley walk so I decided to stop taking the Aromitase Inhibators and see if the SE’S got any better. I have had some improvement in movement and decreased hot flashes, I am using Essential Oils and I plan to do in-depth research on them in regards to cancer prevention. I will sign up up for your E-Books and Newsletter as I am making a huge lifestyle change because I never want to put those toxic drugs in my body ever again, thank you so much for your information, you have made me feel as though I am making the right decision for my body.


    1. Dear Shary,
      Thanks so much for sharing all of that with us. I appreciate your comments and would just like to add that there are many things which keep us well and keep recurrences away and I share what many of those things are in my newsletters and e-books. So stay tuned! I don’t blame you for not wanting all of those side effects – nasty! If I can help you with anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.
      Warmest regards,
      Marnie Clark

  6. I am so thankful to find your information. I was diagnosed with ducal bc, stage 1, type 1 in 2012, less than a cm. Opted to do a double mastectomy with reconstruction, no chemo, as not by chest wall. Premenopausal, so took tamoxifen for 2 1/2 years, not realizing until I got off how much of my memory was affected along with brain fog. It was a slow progression. Had a hysterectomy to get off and feel so much better, so many have noticed. Now my oc strongly encouraging femera. This time doing intense research and not liking what I see. Not wanting to let it take my quality of life. So now I am willing to make a life change to stay off this stuff. I am looking forward to learning all I can.

    1. Catherine,
      I have sent you a private email to answer your questions. Thanks for contacting me and I hope I have been of assistance to you.

  7. Hi marine. I have just started to look.for alternative to tamoxifen and was lucky to come across your page I was diagnosed with bc estrogen positive had lumpectomy, chemo , radio and then tamoxifen just had a 8wk break to have a blood test to see if I gone through the menopause but. My results confirmed I am still pre menopausal I have been taking tamoxifen for 18 months side effects are poor eyesight, fatigue, joint pain ,low moods etc could I do this with your information only I am 55years old Thanking you ren

  8. Hi Marnie, I am also a “young” BC survivor (young in quotes to put my diagnosis into perspective). I was diagnosed almost a year ago, did a BMX since my cancer was obviously genetics, triple pos, stage 1, no node involvement, ACT chemo (both dense dose versions), and now on Herceptin for the year. I also decided not to take Tamoxifen. My onco was furious, but my general surgeon agreed with me. My surgeon is very well versed with all of the side effects that Tamoxifen causes – basically everything you wrote in your blog above. I just can’t take the pill. I also believe that the stats are very skewed to make it sound like this med is saving lives when the stats don’t really read that way. How will I get a recurrence on less than 2% of breast tissue?? I asked my onco that and he could not answer me saying there isn’t much data on HER+ patients on Tamoxifen… yet, he was more than willing to prescribe this to me for ten years!! That makes zero sense to me. Yet, the stats I have been reading on says that recurrence in my less-than-2% breast tissue is less than 4% not taking Tamoxifen. Why would I take a medication for a less than 4% chance of recurrence on less than 2% breast tissue?? UGH. It is frustrating. BTW, it is also very hard to find information on the web that is against Tamoxifen. It is very limited. Now, this is being considered to be prescribed to patients that don’t even have cancer but they may have a genetic background for possible BC. Scary. Thanks for letting me comment and share my story.

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