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Women who take a common drug to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer may benefit from talking to their doctor about cholesterol testing, as a new study has found that the medication may significantly lower levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
The drug exemestane is commonly prescribed to treat breast cancer and prevent it from coming back. However, it is currently being tested as a possible preventative treatment for women who are at high risk of breast cancer.
Researchers from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center found that this may not be effective. Their study revealed that women who took the drug for 24 months experienced an average 9.9 mg/dl drop in HDL cholesterol.
Prior studies have shown that low levels of HDL increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, which would limit the benefit of taking exemestane as a preventative treatment.
"Lower HDL levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, so if a patient has a low HDL level, exemestane may not be the best choice as a breast cancer prevention agent," says the study's senior investigator, Jennifer Eng-Wong.
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