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Drugs Cut Bone Loss of Hormone Therapy

Bisphosphonates Counter Side Effect of Treatment for Breast Cancer
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Zometa Helps Build Bone

The Australian study involved over 400 premenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer; they received hormone therapy to prevent recurrence of breast cancer. The women were being treated by tamoxifen and Zoladex, or Arimidex and Zoladex.

In addition, half the women received treatment with the bone-building drug Zometa. The medication was given once every six months for three years.

Bone density measurements of the spine were taken at the beginning of the study and two years after treatment ended.

Results show that women who did not receive Zometa during hormonal therapy lost 6.3% of their bone mineral density.

In contrast, bone mineral density increased by 4.4% in women who took Zometa, says researcher Michael Gnant, MD, of the University of Vienna in Austria.

Zometa Helps Prevent Bone Loss

The American study, funded by Zometa maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals, involved over 600 postmenopausal women starting Femara treatment.

Half were given Zometa as soon as they started taking Femara for prevention of breast cancer recurrence. The rest were given Zometa only if researchers detected significant bone loss or a fracture.

Over the next three years, bone mineral density in the spine increased by an average of 4% in women who got Zometa from the start. Their hip bone mineral density rose by an average of 2%.

In contrast, the group in which treatment was delayed showed an average decrease of 3% in the spine bone density and an average decrease of 4% in hip density.

The ongoing British study involves 250 women enrolled in testing whether the aromatase inhibitor Arimidex can help to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women.

Half the women are taking one Arimidex tablet a day for five years, while the others are taking placebo.

Early results show that women with normal bone mineral density at the start of the study who weren't given the osteoporosis drug Actonel lost a significant amount of bone on Arimidex treatment.

However, bone mineral density increased in women on Arimidex with poor bone health at the start of the study who were given Actonel for one year, says researcher Shalini Singh, MD, of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London.

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