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Osteoporosis Drugs May Thwart Endometrial Cancer

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Endometrial (uterine) cancer is the fourth most common malignancy in American women and is typically diagnosed when a woman is in her 70s and 80s— when the risk of osteoporosis also peaks.

Bisphosphonates, the class of drugs commonly used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, are known to also have antitumor effects. Laboratory research has shown that bisphosphonates that contain nitrogen, such as alen- dronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva) and risedronate (Actonel), help to induce programmed cancer cell death, reduce the proliferation of cancer cells and inhibit their ability to migrate.

As a preliminary way of investigating whether bisphosphonates can reduce endometrial cancer, researchers reviewed data from 29,254 women that had been collected for a large National Cancer Institute study—the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. They found that women who had ever taken nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates had half the risk for endometrial cancer of women who had never used them.

These findings suggest that if you’re taking a bisphosphonate, you could be getting dual protection from it. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that results are preliminary and this type of study can only suggest rather than prove bisphosphonates reduce endometrial cancer risk—only a randomized clinical trial can provide proof.

The study was published in the journal Cancer.


Posted in Osteoporosis on March 18, 2016

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