Anastrozole, also known as Arimidex, is a drug prescribed for the treatment of breast cancer in women who have been through menopause and those with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer. This anti-estrogen drug may also be used as a preventive method to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease. Men with breast cancer may also be treated with anastrozole.
Anastrozole belongs to a class of medications called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors. It works by inhibiting the production of the hormone estrogen by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that converts the hormone androgen into small amounts of estrogen. This mechanism results in lesser estrogen available to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.
Unbalanced aromatase is associated with fluctuations in estradiol, the main form of estrogen. Although estradiol production is a common problem in women, men also need to maintain balanced levels of this hormone. Since men do not have ovaries (where large amounts of estradiol are produced), estradiol in men is produced in fat cells, liver, and testicles through a complex process that requires aromatase. For optimal health, men and women should have an estradiol level of 18-30 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL).
As men age, aromatase activity in their bodies dramatically increases, resulting in higher estradiol and lower testosterone levels. Aside from old age, men on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can also experience an increase in estradiol and dihydrotestosterone (a stronger version of testosterone). Elevated levels of estradiol can cause unpleasant symptoms in men such as:
On the other hand, men can also produce too little aromatase, resulting in low estrogen levels. This causes serious health problems such as:
Anastrozole is known as a potent anti-cancer drug. Strong scientific evidence shows that this nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor is effective against various types of cancer:
High-quality studies assessing the benefits of anastrozole on women’s fertility have shown that this nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor can induce ovulation and increase the chances of getting pregnant:
In men, anastrozole can be considered a therapeutic option for infertility. A great deal of evidence suggests that this drug has the capacity to improve various sperm parameters:
Evidence suggests that anastrozole may exert beneficial effects in people with obesity as well as those with muscle wasting through increasing lean muscle mass:
Anastrozole side effects are very uncommon. There have been some side effects associated with the use of this drug wherein the patient had one of the issues listed below at some point while being on anastrozole. However, these side effects weren’t confirmed to be associated with the treatment and could have been a coincidence and not related to the use of anastrozole. Despite this, it was listed as a side effect associated with anastrozole even though these associated side effects are very uncommon.
Side effects associated with anastrozole may include the following:
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