Bone Rx may Break Uterine Cancer Risks

Bisphosphonates may protect against endometrial cancer

March 29, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

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(dailyRx News) A certain class of drugs known as bisphosphonates is extremely helpful in boosting bone density. They are commonly prescribed to treat osteoporosis. An ongoing trial suggest these medications may offer additional benefits.

Bone density medications such as, Actonel (risedronate), Boniva (ibandronate) and Fosamax (alendronate), may lower a woman's risk of developing endometrial (uterine) cancer. 

"Talk to your oncologist about bone density tests."

Henry Ford Hospital researchers are conducting a trial which is currently in its fifth year. A total of 29,254 women, aged 55-79, were asked to complete questionnaires that inquired about their history of using medicines that treat thinning bones - bisphosphonates.

The participants were divided into two groups - those who had "ever used" bisphosphonates and those who never had.

Since completing the questionnaires, 115 women have been diagnosed with endometrial cancers.

Investigators found that the incidence of uterine cancer among women taking bisphosphonates was about half the rate seen in women who have never taken any of these medications. The protective effect was even greater against other less aggressive cancers.

"The results of the study suggest that use of low bone density medications may have a protective effect on endometrial cancer, or that women who take them get a less-aggressive cancer," said Sharon Hensley Alford, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a public health researcher at Henry Ford Hospital.

dailyRx Contributing Expert, Adam Brufsky, M.D., Ph.D. is not surprised by these findings. "There are emerging indications that bisphosphonates may prevent breast cancer and perhaps other cancers. This study appears to add to this growing evidence," said Dr. Brufsky who is professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Data for this retrospective study was gathered from the National Cancer Institute's Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Screening Trial. That trial collected information on cancer outcomes of participants.  

Alford cautions that there were limitations to this study. It reviewed past, self-reported information. She says that a clinical trial "with closely monitored data, needs to be done for definitive results."

Results of this study were presented March 24 at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology's 2012 Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer in Austin, Texas.

Until published in a peer-reviewed journal, study findings are considered preliminary.