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Should you take Aromasin with food?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on April 26, 2023.

Official answer

  • Aromasin may cause nausea or indigestion which is why it is recommended to be taken after food.
  • Although food, or the lack of it, can affect the absorption rate of Aromasin, this does not translate into any differences in effect.
  • If you prefer to take Aromasin without food, and you do not get nausea or indigestion from it, you can take it on an empty stomach.

Aromasin (exemestane) is a medication that is used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It is often given to women whose cancer has progressed despite surgery, radiation, or other cancer treatments.

The usual dosage is one 25mg tablet once daily after a meal.

Aromasin may cause nausea or indigestion and taking it after food rather than on an empty stomach may help reduce the incidence of this.

One study did show that food in the stomach and the formulation of Aromasin affected its absorption; however, this did not translate into any significant differences in the effect of the drug in the body.

How does Aromasin work?

The growth of many cancers of the breast is stimulated or maintained by estrogens.

Aromasin works by irreversibly inactivating the enzyme aromatase and is structurally related to the naturally occurring androgen, androstenedione. It acts so much like androstenedione, that the enzyme binds to it, and is unable to bind to anything else. This causes inactivation of the enzyme, an effect known as “suicide inhibition”.

Aromasin significantly lowers circulating estrogen levels but has no effects on the formation of corticosteroids, aldosterone, or any other enzyme.

What are the side effects of Aromasin?

Common side effects of Aromasin are:

  • Back pain
  • Depression or low mood
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased sweating
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Sleeplessness
  • Swelling in the extremities (peripheral edema)
  • Visual disturbances.

Other side effects that may occur in less than 5% of women include:

  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nerve pain
  • Osteoporosis or brittle bones.

  • Aromasin (exemestane) Pharmacia and Upjohn Company LLC
  • Valle M, Di Salle E, Jannuzzo MG, et al. A predictive model for exemestane pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics incorporating the effect of food and formulation. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2005;59(3):355‐364. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2005.02335.x

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