Bisphosphonates May Help Prevent Endometrial Cancer

JANUARY 04, 2015
Kirk McKay, Managing Editor

Women who take bisphosphonates, which are commonly used to treat osteoporosis and other bone conditions, have about half the risk of developing endometrial cancer as women who do not use the drugs, according to a study published online December 22, 2014, in Cancer. This study supports other research showing that bisphosphonates may have an anticancer effect.

For the study, Sharon Hensley Alford, PhD, of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, led a team to assess whether bisphosphonates might help prevent endometrial cancer. The researchers evaluated information from the National Cancer Institute’s PLCO (Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian) Screening Trial, which included questionnaires about bone medication use. Data were analyzed only for bisphosphonates that contain nitrogen, which are known to have strong anticancer activity.

The study included 29,254 women. After factors such as age, race, history of hormone therapy use, smoking status, and body mass index had been taken into account, bisphosphonate users were half as likely to develop 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 Dr. Alford. “This study suggests that women who need bone-strengthening medications and who have increased risk for endometrial cancer may want to choose the nitrogen form of bisphosphonates because this form may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.”

Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common malignancy in women, accounting for nearly 50% of gynecologic cancers diagnosed in the United States. Preclinical studies have shown that bisphosphonates can keep tumor cells from multiplying and from invading normal tissues.