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Aromatase inhibitors

A drug may be classified by the chemical type of the active ingredient or by the way it is used to treat a particular condition. Each drug can be classified into one or more drug classes.

Aromatase inhibitors are drugs that inhibit the synthesis of estrogen by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgens into estrogen. Some cancers are estrogen-dependent, so by blocking the synthesis of estrogen and keeping the estrogen levels low, growth of these cancers can be slowed or inhibited.

Aromatase inhibitors cannot stop the ovaries from making estrogen so they are not effective in suppressing estrogen synthesis in premenopausal women. Aromatase inhibitors are mainly used in the treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, when the ovaries are no longer producing estrogen.

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