Quick Hits: Opioids Not That Effective For Chronic Pain, and Many Women Shun Drug For Breast Cancer Prevention

For people who have chronic pain that is not related to cancer, taking opioids don’t provide much more relief than taking a placebo, but come with many side effects. After reviewing about 100 studies involving opioids, researchers said that the modest benefits of opioids tend to wane over time, but come with unpleasant side effects such as constipation and vomiting. Even more concerning, they say, is that long-term use increases the risk for physical dependence. The meta-analysis found that compared to a placebo, 12% more patients taking opioids had pain relief, 8% more had physical functioning improvements and 6% more had better sleep. They also looked at nine trials that compared opioids to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) and found that both drug classes provided about the same amount of pain relief. Posted December 18, 2018. Via JAMA.

Only 20% of women who face a high risk of developing breast cancer say they have a strong need to take tamoxifen, even though the drug is known to help prevent it.About 400 women at high risk of breast cancer filled out a questionnaire about beliefs and sensitivities to medicines. Results showed that 57% of women thought the drug would cause undesirable side effects, and 29% thought doctors prescribed too many drugs. Also, 17% said that natural alternatives were safer than drugs. In a follow-up survey of about 250 women, just under 15% were on tamoxifen. Separately, a meta-analysis of 9 trials found that women at high risk of breast cancer who take selective estrogen receptor modulators such as tamoxifen have at least a 30% lower risk of developing the disease. Posted December 2, 2018. Via Clinical Breast Cancer.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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