Patients with osteoporosis – and the doctors who treat them – can potentially ease worries about a particular cancer risk with the use of bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis. Recent studies had found some evidence that the use of bisphosphonates could cause an increased risk of esophageal or gastric cancer in patients. However, a large-scale study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that assessed data from the UK General Practice Research Database of over eighty thousand (80,000) patients with osteoporosis both taking and not taking bisphosphonates (the control group) showed nearly identical instances of esophageal and gastric cancer after 4.5 years in the two groups. The incidence of either cancer was 6.21 (+/- .05) people per 10,000 per year for the two groups studied.
The researchers concluded that the use of oral bisphosphonates was not significantly associated with incident esophageal or gastric cancer, at least within the UK Database population studied.
Previous reports have shown reduced risk of breast cancer with bisphosphonate use.
Bisphosphonates are used to treat osteoporosis by slowing the rate of bone thinning and reduce the risk of bone fractures, including fractures of the spine.