For the millions of women who are already taking medications to help improve bone density, there may be more than one benefit. New results from a landmark women’s health study raised the exciting possibility that bone-building medications such as Actonel and Fosamax may help lower the risk or even prevent breast cancer.
The women who were already using these medications when the study began were approximately one-third less likely to develop invasive breast cancer over the next seven years when compared to the women who were not taking these pills, doctors reported on Thursday. However, the study alone is not enough to prove that these drugs, called bisphosphonates, prevent breast cancer. More definitive studies should be able to give us a clearer answer in a year or two.
This information greatly amplifies the hopeful buzz that started last year when the researchers reported that bisphosphonates reduced the chances that cancer would relapse in women that have already been treated for the disease.
Dr. Peter Ravdin, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said, “Now we’re actually looking at this in the general population – healthy women who have never had breast cancer. And it looks like it’s protective in those women as well.” Ravdin help review the research for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, where the results were reported on Thursday, said, “This is very promising.” Millions of women are already taking bisphosphonates for bone-thinning osteoporosis, or to help prevent fractures from cancer that has spread into their bones.