A new study adds to evidence that bone drugs may play a role in suppressing cancer development, although there is still no proof that taking the medications would stave off malignancies.
The drugs, called bisphosphonates, have generated both good and bad headlines recently. Some work has linked them to fewer cases of cancer, while other research has found an increased risk of certain thigh fractures and serious jaw problems among women who take the drugs to treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.
Bone drugs on the market include Merck's Fosamax, Roche's Boniva, Novartis's Reclast and Warner Chilcott's Actonel.
In the new study, researchers found that women on Actonel were only half as likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer as those who'd gotten just one prescription for the drug or none at all.
"At this point, I think people who are already taking the drug can be reassured," Dr. Harminder Singh, who worked on the study, told Reuters Health.
An Israeli study published earlier this year found a link between bisphosphonates and a lower risk of colon cancer among women, but it wasn't clear how to explain that result. It could be that the drugs have protective effects, or it could be that women taking them are healthier overall.
In contrast to the Israeli work, Singh's study, which is published in the journal Cancer, takes into account how often people see their doctors -- one factor that might muddy any differences found between those who take bone drugs and those who don't.
NEW YORK |