A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says one of the most common drugs used to treat breast cancer has an unexpected positive side effect. Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports that Femara has been shown to be effective in helping infertile women get pregnant.
Dr. Gregory Neal, a fertility specialists with the Fertility Center of San Antonio, says the drug, which is in a category of anti cancer drugs known as aromatase inhibitors, blocks the female hormone Estrogen, which is seen as the best way of starving breast cancer of the fuel that makes it spread.
But he says the action in blocking the Estrogen has another side effect in women who are suffering from the common type of infertility known as polycystic ovarian syndrome.
"That will cause your body to think there is a low Estrogen state, and say, oh, we're not making an egg this month because the Estrogen is low," he said. "So your body relases extra hormones to produce eggs inside fluid sacs called follicles."
Dr. Neal says the use of Femara has been shown to be much for effective than Clomid, which is currently the standard for fertility treatment.
"The new medication, Femara, showed improved ovulation, and higher pregnancy and life birth rates as compared to our traditional treatment of Clomid," Dr. Neal said.
The study, which involved 750 women with polycystic ovary syndrome, showed nearly 28% of the women who were on Femara had a successful live birth, compared with only 19% in the Clomid-treated group.
And, Dr. Neal says the use of the cancer drug as another pleasant side effect.
"The multiple birth rate is lower with Femara than it is with Clomid."
He says women who come to him want one healthy baby, not triplets, which is often the case in fertility treatment.