Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Are Serms Bad For You?

Also Known As: selective estrogen receptor modulators



Short answer

With medication, it is always hard to conclude whether something is bad for you or not, as these drugs could potentially be life-saving. That said, there are some grave risks associated with SERMs.



Long answer

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) work by acting on estrogen receptors. A(n) SERM will have antagonistic effects on some tissues (i.e. breast, uterus) and an agonist effect on others (i.e. bones, lipids). While there is some hope that they could be a safer alternative to hormonal replacement therapy, SERMS are given to postmenopausal women and are used primarily in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. There are currently three SERMS in use: tamoxifen, raloxifene, and toremifene. 

Tamoxifen has been on the market the longest and is available as both a pill (Nolvadex) and in liquid form (Soltamox). Tamoxifen is used to treat certain forms of breast cancer in men and women. Raloxifene (Evista) is used to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It is also used in preventing invasive breast cancer. Toremifene is prescribed for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. 

While SERMs may help in certain areas, especially in the prevention and treatment of various forms of breast cancer, they are not without serious - possibly even fatal - risks. Common side-effects associated with SERMs are fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal discharge, and mood swings. Raloxifene carries the added risk of blood clot in the leg, lung, or eye, with deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism being potentially fatal. Due to its potential clotting effect, raloxifene may also cause a stroke. Toremifene can cause a fatal heart rhythm disorder and should be avoided by anyone with Long QT syndrome or who has low levels of magnesium and potassium in the blood. 

SERMs are not recommended for pre-menopausal women and are not safe for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the future. 

Despite the fact that SERMS do have positive applications, the risks associated with them do not let us recommend them very highly. However, as always, consult a trusted doctor.

Possible short-term side effects

  • blood clotting
  • heart arrhythmia
  • stroke
  • night sweats
  • chills
  • mood swings
  • hot flashes
  • vaginal discharge

Ingredients to be aware of

  • toremifine
  • raloxifene
  • tamoxifen


  • prevents and treats osteoporosis
  • prevents / treats some types of breast cancer

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-28-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-28-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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