Is the risk of oesophageal cancer increased in users of oral bisphosphonates?

From: BMJ

Journal rating:
rating: 99%
Study Quality:
rating: 40%

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Article Quality:
rating: 60%
rating: 75%


  • 2,954 men and women over 40 years of age with oesophageal cancer, 2,018 with gastric cancer, and 10,641 with colorectal cancer.


  • The researchers completed a study of gastrointestinal cancer in the General Practice Research Database.
  • The General Practice Research Database is a computerised database containing anonymised patient records for about 6 million people in the United Kingdom registered with a GP.


  • The incidence of oesophageal cancer was increased in people with one or more previous prescriptions for oral bisphosphonates compared with those with no such prescriptions.
  • Risk of oesophageal cancer was significantly higher for 10 or more prescriptions
  • Cancers of the stomach and colorectum were not associated with prescription of bisphosphonate.


  • Yes (with confidence); for oesophageal cancer


Editors Notes

  • Oral bisphosphonates are the recommended first line treatment for primary and secondary prevention of osteoporotic fracture in both men and women in Europe and in North America.
  • Osteoporosis is common, especially among postmenopausal women, and is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality.
  • Prescribing of bisphosphonates is increasing; in the UK, for example, about 3% of women aged over 70 received a prescription for oral bisphosphonates in 2000, rising to 10% in 2005