Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bone drugs may raise throat cancer risk: study

People who take bone-strengthening drugs for several years may have a little higher risk of esophageal cancer, a new study suggests.

The findings are in contrast to another recent study that used the same database of 80,000 patients and concluded that there was no link between the drugs and esophageal cancer. That study was published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Authors of the new study say they tracked patients for nearly twice as long — nearly eight years. Other studies have been divided over whether the risk is real.

In the latest study, British researchers started with nearly 3,000 people with esophageal cancer and matched each one to five similar people who didn't have the disease. Ninety of the cancer patients and 345 people in the comparison group had been prescribed bone-building pills called bisphosphonates.

These drugs, sold as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva and other brands, are widely used after menopause to prevent or treat osteoporosis.