Long-term effects of raloxifene on bone mineral density, bone turnover, and serum lipid levels in early postmenopausal women: three-year data from 2 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials

Arch Intern Med. 2000 Dec 11-25;160(22):3444-50. doi: 10.1001/archinte.160.22.3444.


Background: In postmenopausal women, raloxifene hydrochloride has favorable effects on bone and lipid metabolism and does not stimulate reproductive tissues. The studies reported herein evaluated the long-term (3-year) effects of raloxifene treatment on bone mineral density (BMD), serum lipid levels, and drug tolerability in healthy postmenopausal women.

Methods: A total of 1145 healthy European and North American postmenopausal women aged 45 through 60 years were enrolled in 2 parallel, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of identical design and randomly assigned to receive raloxifene hydrochloride, 30, 60, or 150 mg, or placebo daily; all groups received 400 to 600 mg of elemental calcium. Assessments included measurements for BMD by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, markers of bone turnover, and serum lipid levels.

Results: Lumbar spine BMD changed from baseline to 36 months as follows: placebo (mean percentage change + SE), -1. 32% +0.22%; raloxifene, 30 mg, 0.71% +0.23%; raloxifene, 60 mg, 1. 28% +0.23%; and raloxifene, 150 mg, 1.20% +0.24%. Comparable BMD changes were observed in the hip and total body. Biochemical markers of bone turnover were suppressed by raloxifene to normal premenopausal ranges through 3 years. Serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was reduced 7% to 12% below baseline through 3 years. Study withdrawals due to any reason (37%) and withdrawals due to adverse events (14%) were not different among groups. The only significant adverse effect of therapy was hot flashes (25% in the 60-mg raloxifene group vs 18% in the placebo group); hot flashes were typically reported as mild and were not associated with study withdrawal (1.7% for 60-mg raloxifene vs 2.4% for placebo).

Conclusions: Raloxifene preserves BMD at important skeletal sites, lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and has a tolerability profile comparable to placebo. These results indicate a favorable benefit-risk profile of raloxifene for long-term use in healthy postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:3444-3450.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride / administration & dosage
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride / therapeutic use*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / administration & dosage
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipoproteins
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride