Advertisement

How can hormone treatments for cancer cause osteoporosis?

David Slovik, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
There is a growing awareness that hormone treatments for breast and prostate cancers can harm bone health. Hormones can trigger the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells. By reducing levels of particular hormones, the treatments in question slow the growth of the cancer. But because some of these same hormones help keep bones healthy, blocking them also increases the risk of osteoporosis. 
 
Aromatase inhibitors, which block estrogen production, have been found to reduce deaths from certain types of breast cancer and are more effective than tamoxifen in preventing the cancer from recurring. That makes them a compelling treatment option. But because estrogen slows bone resorption, lowering levels of this hormone can speed bone loss. As a result, women taking these drugs are at greater risk of spinal and other fractures. 
 
Similarly, men with prostate cancer who undergo androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers levels of male hormones, are at greater risk of bone loss and fractures. As a result, anyone on these therapies should talk to his or her doctor about protecting bone health with regular screenings and appropriate preventive measures, such as calcium and vitamin D supplementation or perhaps medication to prevent bone loss.

Continue Learning about Osteoporosis Causes & Risks

Can a diet high in animal protein contribute to bone loss?
Debra Fulghum Bruce PhDDebra Fulghum Bruce PhD
A diet too high in animal protein such as meat and fish may be a key player in bone loss. Protei...
More Answers
What are the risk factors of osteoporosis?
Harris H. McIlwain, MDHarris H. McIlwain, MD
Osteoporosis usually does not occur at random. There are several genetic and environmental risk ...
More Answers
Why does osteoporosis affect women more often than men?
Celeste Robb-NicholsonCeleste Robb-Nicholson
This disorder weakens bones, leaving them vulnerable to breaking even without a serious fall or othe...
More Answers
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Osteoporosis
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Osteoporosis

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.