COMMENTARY | Steroid use is so rampant in professional sports that Major League Baseball players like Marlon Byrd use breast cancer drugs to mask their side effects. Byrd received a 50-game suspension for using the drug Tamoxifen, an estrogen-blocker used to treat women with breast cancer. He claims that it was an oversight on his part -- the drug was prescribed to treat a personal health condition. Really, I'm not buying that excuse. There are very few male health issues, other than breast cancer, that require treatment with Tamoxifen.
The World Anti-Doping Agency Code lists 192 banned substances. These drugs are banned in Olympic and many professional sports, including baseball. Tamoxifen is on that list. It is readily available and cheap because the patent has expired. The drug is essentially a generic drug.
Tamoxifen works by blocking estrogen production, especially in breast tissue. It can reduce the appearance of male breasts caused by steroid use, but the drug is not without risks. Serious side effects including cancer, stroke and blood clots are possible. Minor side effects include hot flashes and nausea.
I know a lot about this drug. My oncologist prescribed it for me to treat my breast cancer.
Tamoxifen for man problems?
Medline Plus, a division of the National Institute of Health, lists other uses for Tamoxifen:
"Tamoxifen is also used sometimes to induce ovulation (egg production) in women who do not produce eggs but wish to become pregnant. Tamoxifen is also sometimes used to treat McCune-Albright syndrome (a condition that may cause bone disease, early sexual development, and dark colored spots on the skin in children)."
Marlon Byrd is not a child, so McCune-Albright syndrome does not apply to him. The only other legitimate reason to use Tamoxifen is to treat cancer. Either Byrd has cancer he is not disclosing or he is most likely using the drug to cover up steroid use. I believe that Byrd did not know Tamoxifen was on the banned list. Does he really think we believe he required the drug to treat some health problem he had a few years back? I do not believe that he has some surgical issue that requires taking Tamoxifen. Covering up steroid use makes more sense to me.
Lynda Altman was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2011. She writes a series for Yahoo! Shine called "My Battle with Breast Cancer."