Fosamax is best known for its treatment for osteoporosis but perhaps even better known for its side-effects and, in the opinion of many doctors working with bio-identical progesterone, it is ineffective in treating the condition it is prescribed for. Now it seems that the class of medications known as oral bisphosphonates not only have a host of side effects, including heartburn, diarrhea and constipation but research just published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows that they also double the risk of esophegal cancer.
Bisphosphonates (brand names include Boniva, Fosamax, Actonel and Didronel), are the most commonly recommended and prescribed drugs for post-menopausal bone loss. A letter to the editor by an FDA official published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine warned that these drugs might be linked to esophageal cancer – and, in some cases, the drugs were suspected of causing deaths from bisphosphonate-linked malignancies. Over the years these drugs have been prescribed there have been increasing suggestions that people who take oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis are developing esophageal cancer far more often than would be expected.
However, this study by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK is the first to have investigated and carried out large-scale research to finally investigate whether bisphosphonates are a cancer risk.
Their results showed that those who had taken 10 or more prescriptions of bisphosphonate drugs — or who had taken the medications for about five years — had about double the risk of esophageal cancer compared with people who had not taken bisphosphonates.
Usually, esophageal cancer develops in one per 1000 people between the ages of 60 and 79 over five years. But based on their findings, the Oxford scientists estimated that when oral bisphosphonates are taken for five years, the rate of esophageal cancer increases to two cases per 1000 people.
A previous study had found no increased risk of esophageal cancer with oral bisphosphonate drugs, but the new report tracked patients for nearly twice as long and is considered far more statistically significant than the earlier research.
The study’s lead author, Dr Jane Green, said “Bisphosphonates are being increasingly prescribed to prevent fractures, and what is lacking is reliable information on the benefits and risks of their use in the long term,” though if she wanted to know that then all she has to do is read Dr John Lee’s book on ‘What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause’ where he went into some detail on what he considered to be the risks and failings of this class of drugs.
Symptoms to look out for:
If you, or anyone you know, is on such drugs then the symptoms to look out for are difficulty in swallowing and throat, chest, or digestive discomfort. If any of these occur please go and see your doctor and have them checked out..