Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)

Raloxifene (Evista)

Raloxifene (Evista) belongs to a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). It is FDA-approved for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

SERMs were developed to reap the benefits of estrogen while avoiding the hormone's potential side effects. Raloxifene, a so-called ''designer'' estrogen, can act like estrogen on bone -- protecting its density --  but as an anti-estrogen on the lining of the uterus.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

Drink Less for Strong Bones

Heavy drinking is a health risk for many reasons, including the effects on bones. Research shows that chronic heavy alcohol use, especially during adolescence and young adult years, can dramatically affect bone health and increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life. What do doctors advise? Drink less for strong bones.   Calcium is an essential nutrient for healthy bones, and alcohol is its enemy. "Alcohol has multiple effects on calcium," says Primal Kaur, MD, an osteoporosis specialist at...

Read the Drink Less for Strong Bones article > >

In a three year study involving some 600 postmenopausal women, raloxifene was found to increase bone density and lower LDL cholesterol, while having no stimulative effect on the uterine lining (which means that it is unlikely to cause uterine cancer).

The first SERM to reach the market was tamoxifen, which blocks the stimulative effect of estrogen on breast tissue. Tamoxifen has proven valuable in preventing cancer in the second breast of women who have had cancer in one breast. 

Because of its anti-estrogen effects, the most common side effects with raloxifene are hot flashes. Conversely, because of its estrogenic effects, raloxifene increases the risk of blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lung). The greatest increase in risk occurs during the first 4 months of use. Patients taking raloxifene should avoid tobacco use and prolonged periods of immobility during travel, when blood clots are more prone to occur. The risk of deep vein thrombosis with raloxifene is probably comparable to that of estrogen, about 2 to 3 times higher than the usual low occurrence rate. 

Raloxifene decreases the risk of spine fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, but the benefit in decreasing hip fracture risk is not yet known. (The only agents that are definitely proven to decrease hip fracture risk are bisphosphonates.)

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on October 05, 2012
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

thumbnail_man_feeding_woman_strawberry
Slideshow
Managing OAB
Article
 
Vitamin D
Slideshow
osteoporosis overview
Slideshow
 
Lactose Intolerance
Article
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Article
 
Dairy products
Tool
Superfood for Bones
Slideshow
 
Endocrinologists in Your Area
Screening Tests for Women
Slideshow
exercise endometrial cancer
Article
 
hand holding medicine
Article
Working Out With Osteoporosis
Video