Tamoxifen, HER2 and Natural Products

When I stopped at the Cancer Center Pharmacy for my Tamoxifen, a staff member went over the possible side effects as well as natural health supplements that I must avoid.

I am going to list them here for others to see. These all have phytoestrogens and are not recommended due to estrogenic activity.

Aletris, alfalfa, anise, beta-sitosterols, bitter melon, black cohosh, blue cohosh, chasteberry, DHEA, dong quai, evening primrose oil, ginseng (all), fennel, flaxseed, hops, licorice, milk thistle, raspberry leaf, red clover, resveratrol, scarlet pimpernel, soy supplements, tangeretin, wild yam.

That’s quite a list. While I knew about soy and flaxseed, as the oncologist mentioned them early on, I was not aware of some of these others.

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Update

I cannot believe a whole month has passed since I last posted! February was a very busy month, with a MugaScan, oncologist appointment and two infusions of Herceptin. I was at my preferred center for this MugaScan. The staff are nice and seem to be more self-assured than at the center where the vein collapsed.

The oncologist said that my heart is okay. In May, she will order another MugaScan – the last one! Then in May, the final Herceptin infusion.

I finally thought to ask her what stage was the breast cancer, when I was diagnosed. It was at Stage 1.

She gave me a prescription for Tamoxifen, and seemed rather surprised that I wasn’t *already on it*. Don’t know when I was supposed to be started on it. I am on 20 mg per day, and with a meal. She says some people get nauseous so food with the pill is recommended. I’ve had no side effects so far. Some of them can be quite scary. I will be taking it for five years.

She also said that 3 hours of exercise per week is best. Or more. She did not know why, at the information session, the leader had said to exercise 3 times per week, for 30 minutes, no more and no less. So I have the go ahead to use my treadmill and weight machine more often. I am glad, as I’ve been putting on some weight. The increased exercise should help with that.

I have just one Herceptin infusion in March, two in April and that last one in May. I also have a mammogram booked in May, the first since all this started last year.

It has been a long time, with so many appointments, and I will be looking forward to summer, and some free time.