Effect of letrozole on the lipid profile in postmenopausal women with breast cancer

Eur J Cancer. 2001 Aug;37(12):1510-3. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(01)00155-1.


Hormonal therapy plays a central role in the overall treatment of breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors can inhibit the aromatase enzyme system resulting in a reduction of oestrogens. Letrozole is a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor that effectively blocks aromatase activity without interfering with adrenal steroid biosynthesis. The drug can significantly reduce the levels of plasma oestrogens, which remain suppressed throughout the treatment. Data are scarce concerning the influence of these drugs on serum lipid levels. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of letrozole on the serum lipid profile in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. A total of 20 patients with breast cancer were treated with letrozole, 2.5 mg once daily. After an overnight fast, serum lipid parameters (total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoproteins A1, B and E and lipoprotein (a)) were measured before treatment and at 8 and 16 weeks afterwards. A significant increase in total cholesterol (P=0.05), LDL cholesterol (P<0.01) and apolipoprotein B levels (P=0.05) in the serum, as well as in the atherogenic risk ratios total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol (P<0.005) and LDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol (P<0.005) was noticed after letrozole treatment. We conclude that letrozole administration in postmenopausal women with breast cancer has an unfavourable effect on the serum lipid profile.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Apolipoproteins E / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Letrozole
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoprotein(a) / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitriles / adverse effects*
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Risk Factors
  • Triazoles / adverse effects*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Lipids
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Nitriles
  • Triazoles
  • Triglycerides
  • Letrozole