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New Osteoporosis Drug Prevents Fractures and Breast Cancer

But Risks Remain, Researchers Say

A new osteoporosis drug that may prevent fractures, heart disease, stroke, and cut the risk of certain breast cancers may be on the horizon. A study published in the February 25, 2010, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine shed new light on the drug, called lasofoxifene.

Over a period of 5 years, researchers gave participants a placebo or once-daily dose of lasofoxifene. The participants included 8,556 women with osteoporosis between the ages of 59 and 80. The researchers studied the drug’s impact on bone strength and breast cancer development, in addition to the drug’s effects on heart disease and stroke.
 
The researchers concluded that lasofoxifene reduces the risk of fractures, including vertebral compression fractures. Breast cancer, stroke, and heart disease risk were also reduced.
 
As for the adverse effects, the researchers found that more women taking the drug developed lung cancer—28, compared to 4 in the placebo group.
 
Additionally, reports of blood clots more than doubled in the lasofoxifene group. However, the researchers noted that the risk is small and comparable to similar anti-osteoporosis medications.
 
More research still needs to be conducted on this drug, and lasofoxifene hasn’t yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. But with these results, the medical community now has a better understanding of its risks and benefits.
 
To learn more about this study, you may read the abstract via this link.
 
Learn More about Lasofoxifene
Lasofoxifene belongs to a class of medications known as selective estrogen-receptor modulators (SERMs). These drugs work by mimicking estrogen in some tissues. But in other tissues, it has an anti-estrogen effect.
 
The reason these drugs work for osteoporosis is that SERMs act like estrogen in the bone. Estrogen is a hormone that is essential to building bone, and you can learn more about that in this article about estrogen and osteoporosis.
 
On the other hand, SERMs do not work like estrogen in breast tissue. This is why SERMs won’t increase breast cancer risk—they don’t provide the estrogen that the cancer thrives upon.

 

Updated on: 11/07/12
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