Long-term use of oral bisphosphonates, a drug used to treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, may double the risk of developing oesophagus cancer, research suggests.
Data on around six million UK GP patients was analysed by the University of Oxford and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Among those aged 40 and over, 2,954 had oesophageal cancer, 2,018 had gastric cancer and 10,641 had bowel cancer, all diagnosed between 1995 and 2005.
The results showed that the chance of oesophageal cancer was 30% higher in people with one or more previous prescriptions for oral bisphosphonates compared to people who had never taken the drugs.
The risk was almost double for those who had 10 or more prescriptions compared with those who had had between one and nine.
For those taking the drugs for at least three years (five years on average), the risk was more than double compared with those who had never had a prescription for the drugs.
There were no links between the drugs and stomach or bowel cancer.