Tamoxifen is an oral drug that in various medical instances helps combat the effects of tumors. It belongs to the family of the so-called SERMs (an acronym for ‘Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators’). This is a drug which is reportedly effective in treating breast cancer – namely, the type of breast cancer which is determined by estrogens – but also in reducing the risk of breast cancer following surgery and/or radiation therapy. It also treats all those instances where breast cancer in women has a genetic origin (high genetic disposition to breast cancer).
This drug was discovered by mere chance while researchers were working in ICI’s labs and actually looking for a new contraceptive drug in 1962. It was then marketed in the U.S.A. not long after, but was used at the beginning for the treatment of some infertility forms, a purpose which Tamoxifen didn’t seem however to really represent the ideal cure for.
In 1971, some new clinical trials were carried out and these trials found some effectiveness in Tamoxifen being used for treating breast cancer. Two years later, noting that there was a link between estrogen and breast cancer, and thanks also to the success of those first clinical trials, ICI marketed the drug in the U.S.A. as a treatment for breast cancer. However, FDA’s approval only was issued many years later, in 1977.
The drug was then sold by ICI in a number of other countries with the brand name of Nolvadex (and the company ICI itself was subsequently renamed AstraZeneca). Nolvadex was later followed by a certain amount of generic drugs manufactured by other labs, too many now to list. In 1998, FDA approved an enlargement of the medical/clinical usages for Tamoxifen, which included also the prevention of mammary cancer in those women who were diagnosed as having a high chance to develop this illness.
Despite the continuous and growing success of the drug in preventing and also treating breast cancer, in June 2006 AstraZeneca stopped the sale of Nolvadex in the U.S.A. However a certain number of generic versions of the drug are still available in that country, making it easily accessible for all patients and athletes. Nolvadex is currently – together with Clomid – the most popular SERM among athletes and particularly bodybuilders.
Tamoxifen does present, as any other drug on the market, some collateral effects which could be harmful to users. In general, these negative effects include (but are in no way limited to): nausea, high blood pressure, reduced amount of white blood cells and a reduction in the number of platelets. It is to be underlined however that, generally speaking, the risks potentially arising from the administration of Tamoxifen are by far of a lower degree if compared to the benefits it does widely entail.
In fact, with reference to both men and women treating mammary metastatic carcinoma, a dosage of 10-20 mg two times per day can be administered with quite a fair success and very low side effects. Men using the drug in order to mitigate the estrogenic effects of AAS (Anabolic Androgen Steroids) or during PCT (Post Cycle Therapy) will administer a dosage between 10mg and 40mg per day on average. The half-life of Tamoxifen ranges anywhere between 5 days and 7 days.
Now, let’s examine the main categories of side effects, so that you can be aware of what you may be facing and take all the necessary precautions in order to keep these negative effects under control.
- Common Side Effects when taking Tamoxifen (occurring to more than 30% of the total users): water retention, hot flashes, loss of sexual desire (libido – especially occurring in men), and vaginal discharges.
- Less common side effects (noticeable in over 10% but less than 30% of cases arising from the administration of Tamoxifen): weight loss, irregular menstrual cycles, nausea, fluctuations in mood, and vaginal bleeding.
- Rare Side Effects (which are detected in less than 10% of the observed cases), include chest pains, depression, changes in ocular vision, and others, which definitely require immediate medical attention. If you experience these rare side effects, seek the advice and intervention of a qualified medical professional who will take the relevant steps after sending you to undergo an appropriate medical test.
As said, Tamoxifen has been and is widely used in many sports, especially in bodybuilding. This drug is more effective as a support treatment for steroids and their various cycle formats, given that it prevents the aromatization of the steroids being administered and helps prevent some of the worse side effects, such as gynecomastia.
While cycling your steroids, Nolvadex will particularly help those athletes who are more sensitive to steroid accumulation. Steroid accumulation may cause several problems (additional to gynecomastia) such as the build-up of subcutaneous fat and water retention. Aromatization is indeed the number one problem deriving from any steroid usage; this usage causes the above issues, among others, and thus no one should ever start a steroid cycle, of any type, without considering a proper support treatment. To do so otherwise,is like walking on a rope suspended 20 feet above the floor without a security net under you!
Generally speaking, Tamoxifen is implemented for three main reasons, in three different contexts:
- For blocking the action of the exceeding estrogen during a cycle of aromatizing AAS;
- For blocking the estrogen-like action of molecules like Oxymetholone;
- For blocking the action of exceeding estrogens at the end of a cycle, as part of a PCT.
The latter case is quite interesting as Tamoxifen really is effective at avoiding the consequences which take place when one ends performing their particular cycle with steroids. Actually, when you take anabolic steroids (exogenous implementation), your body almost immediately and completely stops producing testosterone (endogenous hormonal production), and when you end taking those anabolic steroids, your body not only does NOT resume the endogenous production, but also kind of strangely compensates this by producing more estrogens.
This in turn determines that the body has to face and cope with two processes whereby the process to normalization of the androgens is impaired by the excess estrogen being produced.
Additionally, these lower and long-lasting levels of androgens lead most likely to the production of a hormone called cortisol – a catabolic hormone, known to ‘break’ proteins and fat. This leads to a loss in muscle gains and strength. If you are trying to achieve mass or bigger muscles, then you are faced with a huge problem. Hence the reason why Tamoxifen is contraindicated to whomever is looking to become ‘bigger’.
Women, who too use Tamoxifen, may be interested into the following: is there any type of action carried out by Tamoxifene from which action female athletes may gain considerable advantages in a pre-contest or in a definition phase?
Well, we have been able to notice through experience, that the majority of women find it much simpler to lose weight in their breasts rather than in their thighs or hips when undergoing a strict diet. The reason is basically hormonal: normally, women have more beta-2 adrenergic receptors in the higher portion of their body and more estrogenic ones in the lower portion of their body. This is where Tamoxifen comes into the game: it blocks, in simple words, the effects of the estrogen-receptor bond to the DNA, thus impairing the lipogenic action of estrogens and, consequently, making it easier for the fat deposits on hips and thighs to be removed. Usually, in order to hit this target, female athletes implement anywhere between 10mg and 20mg of Tamoxifen in the last weeks of their diets together with Clenbuterol.
Women should however be aware of the fact that contraceptive pills contain estrogen and that consequently Tamoxifen impairs their effectiveness. So, while using Tamoxifen, women can experience irregularities in their menstrual cycles, such as lowered amounts of bleeding and cycles that do not occur always at the expected regular periods of time.
Tamoxifen is often compared to aromatase inhibitors, but there is a big difference between these two classes of drugs, given that the latter class of drugs does NOT inhibit the natural production of estrogen – the reason why many still opt for this class of drugs as their preferred recovery drug. Moreover, Tamoxifen has much faster effects compared to any aromatase inhibitor, although it has much shorter effects – hence, when you stop administering Tamoxifen, the same problems can possibly occur just as fast. In order to avoid this, Tamoxifen should be used alongside an AI (aromatase inhibitor).
Now, given that it’s so important to start PCT once you finished any steroid cycle in order to stop any significant loss of the mass you have gained with so much effort, it’s of paramount importance to know WHEN to start Post Cycle Therapy. This depends on the type of steroids you have been using: if you have used steroids orally, your best bet is to begin as soon as possible, if not right away once the steroid cycle has ended.
Finally, before starting a Tamoxifen treatment, you should consult with your MP and you should inform him of all drugs, if any, you are taking at that time. Don’t forget to mention them all, which means including herbals, vitamins, and other supplements you may be taking. Your genetics count too, so the physician will most likely require you to undergo a very thorough check before any decision is taken about Tamoxifen’s implementation dosages and times.