Bone Building Bisphosphonates Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

A new study shows that bisphosphonates such as Fosamax and Boniva may reduce patients’ risk of developing colon cancer. Women in particular tend to take these prescriptions after menopause and now have up to a 59% reduced risk of colon cancer development.

Colon cancer affects men and women with equal frequency, but there is a common misperception that it’s a “man’s disease.” Colon cancer ranks as the third most common cause of cancer deaths in women and will claim the lives of more than 25,000 American women this year.

However, with proper screening, it is a treatable and curable disease. Screening procedures such as a colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy, provide doctors with a clear view of the digestive system lining so they can identify and treat abnormal tissue growth before the development of colon cancer.

Fosamax is used in men and women to treat or prevent osteoporosis that is caused by menopause or by taking steroids. Fosamax is also used to increase bone mass in men who have osteoporosis, and to treat Paget’s disease of bone in men and women.

Up to about the age of 30, the body deposits more calcium into your bones than it takes from them. Estrogen also helps keep calcium in your bones throughout reproductive life. But when estrogen decreases in the first few years after menopause, bones can weaken and suffer rapid loss of calcium.

Designed to decrease activity of the cells that cause bone loss after menopause, with just one tablet a month, Boniva for example, helps slow or stop the natural processes that dissolve bone tissue; it binds with and stays in bones throughout the month. Boniva is clinically proven to not only maintain bone density, but actually works with the body to help reverse bone loss.

Gad Rennert, MD PhD and chairman of the department of community medicine and epidemiology at Carmel Medical Center says:

“These findings are meaningful because they point to a possible protective effect of this class of drugs being relevant to prevention of many different cancers.”

Researchers at the Carmel Medical Center of Clalit Health Services in Haifa, Israel, collected data on nearly 1,900 postmenopausal women who took part in the Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer study in northern Israel.

After consideration of other factors, including family background, lifestyle, and use of aspirins, statins, and hormone replacement, the women on bisphosphonates still had a 59% reduced risk of developing colon cancer. According to Rennert, bisphosphonates are likely to offer a reduced risk because they act in a fashion similar to that of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Bisphosphonates are powerful because they cause dramatic changes in the bone physiology. In women or men whose bone density T score is lower than -2.5, or who already have a vertebral fracture, these medicines reduce the incidence of fractures and improve the quality of life.

In general, bisphosphonates have an excellent safety profile. Oral bisphosphonates can cause upset stomach and inflammation and erosions of the esophagus, which is the main problem of oral preparations. This can be prevented by remaining seated upright for 30 to 60 minutes after taking the medication.

Intravenous bisphosphonates can give fever and flu-like symptoms after the first infusion, which is thought to occur because of their potential to activate human T cells. These symptoms do not recur with subsequent infusions.

Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology

Sy Kraft, B.A.

View drug information on Boniva; Fosamax.

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