Home > Public Health > ‘Breast cancer drug causes bone loss’: Hits Cortical Bone, Raises Fracture Chance: Lancet

‘Breast cancer drug causes bone loss’: Hits Cortical Bone, Raises Fracture Chance: Lancet

February 8, 2012

A commonly used drug, exemestane, taken by early breast cancer patients in India as frequently as once a day for five years, has been found to cause significant bone loss, even when they are given adequate calcium and vitamin D intake.
The drug has been found to worsen age-related decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) by about three times, increasing chances of fractures manifold.
In a study published in the medical journal Lancet, researchers from Canada said the drug causes loss of cortical bone that comprises 80% of the human skeleton.
In the study, cortical thickness of women who took exemestane declined by almost 8% compared with a 1% decline in those who didn’t.
This finding is important because most fractures (80%) in old age are the result of greater loss of cortical bone and account for most disability.
“Exemestane worsens age-related decreases in bone mineral density by about three times, even in the setting of adequate calcium and vitamin D intake,” said lead author Angela Cheung from the University Health Network, Toronto.
Dr Bhawna Sirohi, head of medical oncology at Artemis Cancer Centre, said exemestane is considered a “wonder drug” in India, and is used very commonly to treat early breast cancer in post-menopausal women. It is also used for women whose breast cancer has worsened.
Dr Sirohi said, “Exemestane is in a class of medications called aromatase inhibitors. It works by decreasing the amount of oestrogen production. This can slow or stop the growth of some breast tumours that need oestrogen to grow. Using exemestane is a standard treatment for postmenopausal women with early stage hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.” She added almost 75% of breast cancer cases are hormone driven. “Oestrogen is protective for bones. As women attain menopause, oestrogen levels dip. Exemestane reduces level of oestrogen causing bone loss,” Dr Sirohi added.

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Categories: Public Health
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