The drug tamoxifen, usually used to treat or prevent breast cancer, may help short boys attain a normal adult height, researchers report.
Final body height is determined when the skeleton reaches maturity, and tamoxifen decreases the rate of skeletal maturation, according to study findings reported in the medical journal Pediatrics.
“Our results suggest that tamoxifen may improve height potential in pubertal boys with short stature,” lead investigator Dr. Nerissa C. Kreher told Reuters Health.
Kreher and colleagues at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis note that tamoxifen use has resulted in a significant decrease in skeletal maturation in girls with certain conditions affecting their growth. However, there have been no reports on whether it works in short boys.
To investigate, the researchers reviewed the medical charts of seven boys with an average age of about 15 years. Six were being treated with growth hormone. In addition, they had been given tamoxifen twice daily for an average of about 2 years.
The rate of skeletal maturation was calculated by dividing the change in bone age by the change in chronological age. Bone age, as seen on X-rays, was measured independently by endocrinologists unaware of the subjects’ age or treatment.
The researchers found that tamoxifen “significantly decreased the rate of skeletal maturation and increased the predicted adult height.”
However, added Kreher, “controlled, prospective studies are needed to verify these findings.”