Correlation Between Bisophonates and Cancer

September 3, 2010

As reported by Reuters, patients taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis for more than five years may be at greater risk for developing cancer of the oesophagus, according to a British study.

As reported by Reuters, patients taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis for more than five years may be at greater risk for developing cancer of the oesophagus, according to a British study.

The article quotes Jane Green, of Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit, as saying, “We have to be concerned, but this is the first large study with long-term follow up that has found this effect, and it is just one observational study.”

“Also, because oesophageal cancer is uncommon, even a doubled risk is still a low risk," she said in a telephone interview.”

The research team included Green and colleagues from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The researchers examined data from the UK General Practice Research database to come up with their results.

Those with 10 or more prescriptions for bisphospponates, or with prescriptions over about five years, had nearly double the risk of oesophageal cancer. Those with one or more previous prescriotions for oral bispohosphonates had a 30% higher risk of developing oesophageal cancer as well.

While previoud research that used the same database “found no link between bisphosphonates and oesophageal cancer,” this study trackers the patients fro twice as long.

The article quotes Green as saying, “It's important to see our findings as part of a wider picture. These are very commonly prescribed drugs and we don't have enough information about the long-term risks and benefits.”

The report, “Oral bisphosphonates and risk of cancer of oesophagus, stomach, and colorectum: case-control analysis within a UK primary care cohort,” appears in the British Medicine Journal.