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Evista Strengthens Bones, Safe on Uterus

Drug Reduces Osteoporosis Risk Without Raising Endometrial Cancer Risk

WebMD Health News

July 18, 2003 -- An osteoporosis drug that acts like estrogen in a woman's bones may be able to provide the bone-boosting effects of the hormone without the added risk of some types of cancer associated with estrogen.

New research shows that long-term use of the drug Evista can reduce a woman's risk of osteoporosis without increasing her risk of endometrial cancer.

Evista belongs to a class of drugs know as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) that have estrogen-like effects on bone tissue but may not act like the hormone estrogen in other parts of the body, such as the breast or uterus. But another SERM, tamoxifen, has been shown to increase the risk of endometrial cancer by stimulating the growth of endometrial tissue in the uterus.

In this report, published in the current issue of the journal Menopause, researchers combined data from two identical studies involving 328 women with an average age of 55 who were about five years past menopause. They were randomly assigned to take Evista or a placebo for 5 years.

Researchers found that women who took Evista were 87% less likely to develop spine osteoporosis, a condition of severe thinning of bone that increases the risk of fracture. They also found that women who had baseline osteopenia, a condition of thinned bone, were four times more likely to have normalized bone density at the spine and hip.

Women on Evista with normal bone densities at the start of the study were 77% less likely to develop thinning of the bone compared with women who took placebo.

No diagnoses of endometrial cancer were made in either treatment group.

Researcher Elaine E. Jolly, MD, of Ottawa General Hospital, and colleagues say this study provides the longest follow-up period to date on the osteoporosis drug's effects on the uterus and found no increased risk of endometrial cancer among women on Evista.

The study is funded by Eli Lilly and Co., the makers of Evista and a WebMD sponsor.

SOURCE: Menopause, July 2003. News release, Eli Lilly and Company.

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