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Treatments for breast cancer may increase risk of hip fracture

Category: Breast

Women who have received positive breast cancer tests may be at an increased risk to hip fractures due to a combination of early menopause caused by treatments and effects from drugs used to combat the disease, according to a new study from Northwestern University researchers.

Beatrice Edwards, a physician at Northwestern Medical Center, said that hip fractures in women under age 70 should be extremely rare. Yet, she was seeing a steady stream of these cases in women who had survived breast cancer. To get at the root cause of this situation, she studied the medical histories of six of these patients.

She found that the majority of these women did not have osteoporosis, but they did have low bone mineral density. This suggests that rapid changes in body chemistry may be to blame. Edwards said that this could have come about from their treatments, which included radiation therapy, chemotherapy and the use of aromatase inhibitors, which lower estrogen levels and have been associated with an increased osteoporosis risk.

"Although the majority of women with breast cancer can expect to be fully cured from the disease, the prevention of cancer treatment-induced bone loss is important to consider in cancer survival," she said.  

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