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Alendronate may be chemopreventive against colon cancer


A large study using a cohort of subjects from the Danish National Prescription Database and the Cause of Death Register looked at data on colon cancer incidence and survival in 30 606 women with a mean age of 71.9 years who were given alendronate as their first treatment for osteoporosis. These data were compared with those from 124 424 age-matched and gender-matched controls.

Over the 9-year study period, the women who took alendronate had a lower risk of dying from colon cancer, with an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 0.62 (95% CI = 0.52–0.72). The risk was lowest in women taking a weekly as opposed to a daily dose. Closer analysis revealed that treated women had both a lower incidence of cancer (HR 0.69 [95% CI = 0.60–0.79]) and less chance of dying from colon cancer once it had been diagnosed (HR 0.82 [95% CI = 0.70–0.97]). This effect was apparent after two years of treatment.

Editor's comment: Osteoporosis treatment with bisphosphonates has previously been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Here, the use of oral alendronate is shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and to decrease mortality. Overall, these studies provide strong support for an anti-cancer role for bisphosphonates in the clinic.

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