Bone Booster May Cut Cancer Risk

Bisphosphonates may reduce endometrial cancer risk in women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Women taking a bone-boosting medication might see a surprising result — a lower risk of a type of cancer.

A new study found that women who had taken bisphosphonates had a reduced rate of endometrial cancer.

“Other studies have shown that bisphosphonates may reduce the risk of certain cancers, but we are the first to show that the risk for endometrial cancer may also be reduced,” said lead study author Sharon H. Alford, PhD, of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, in a press release.

Bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (brand name Fosamax) and ibandronate (Boniva), are bone-strengthening medications often used to treat osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken.

According to Dr. Alford and team, some past studies have suggested that bisphosphonates have anti-tumor effects.

Dr. Alford and team wanted to explore the effects of bisphosphonates on endometrial cancer — a cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus.

To do so, they looked at data from the National Cancer Institute’s 1993 to 2001 Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. This trial involved 29,254 women older than 60 who reported their use of certain medications and provided data on cancer diagnoses.

A total of 97 endometrial cancer cases were reported during this study.

Dr. Alford and colleagues found that women who had ever taken bisphosphonates were about half as likely to develop endometrial cancer as those who had never taken the medications.

This study focused on nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates only, Dr. Alford and team noted. The patients self-reported much of the study data.

This study was published Dec. 22 in the journal CANCER.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 19, 2014
Last Updated:
December 23, 2014