Bisphosphonates May Lower the Risk for Colorectal Cancer

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A new study suggested taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis for more than a year may reduce the risk for colorectal cancer by 60%.  

The results came from an analysis of postmenopausal women who took bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (Fosamax), for more than a year.  

The investigators analyzed the impact of bisphosphonates in reducing colorectal cancer in 933 pairs of postmenopausal female cases and controls.

Patients who took bisphosphonates for more than 1 year had a significantly lower risk for developing colorectal cancer than those who did not. 

Furthermore, this anticancer effect also appeared among individuals who already had cancer.  In other words, for patients who already have cancer, the likelihood of having other cancers is going to be lower if the patients take bisphosphonates.

Prior to this study, bisphosphonates has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in the AZURE study and in an Austrian study.

In the AZURE study, investigators found no effect of a potent bisphosphonate, zolendronic acid (Zometa, Novartis), on the recurrence of breast cancer or on overall survival.  However, the investigators did find a lower risk (30% risk reduction) of breast cancer recurrence among postmenopausal women (but not premenopausal women) who took zolendronic. 

If you are taking bisphosphonates, you might be glad that the drug that you are taking to protect your bones also has an additional benefit on cancer protection. 

Source: 2011 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (GICS): Abstract 371.  Presented January 22, 2011.

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