A new study found that medication for the prevention of bone loss may help lower women’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Researchers from the University of Queensland looked at the medical records of 50,000 anonymous Australian women and the medications they were taking. Drawing distinctions between medications and medical conditions, the researchers found that those who used nitrogen-based bisphosphonates were less likely to develop ovarian cancer. Bisphosphonates are taken to prevent bone loss and reduce the chances of osteoporosis.
“We don’t yet know why these medicines may lower the risk of ovarian cancer in women, but previous studies have shown that nitrogen-based bisphosphonates can stop the disease from spreading in laboratory-grown cells,” said Karen Tuesley, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland School of Public Health.
1,720 women in Australia were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2021, and over 80 percent of these were women over 50. Over 200,000 Australians are prescribed bisphosphonates each year.
This study reveals a potentially easy and already easily accessed preventative measure for ovarian cancer that is already tested and popular within the Australian population. Researchers have also found this to be the case with aspirin and colorectal cancer.
“Further research is needed to understand why these medicines might affect ovarian cancer subtypes differently. We know ovarian cancer subtypes look different under the microscope and have unique risk factors,” said Susan Jorn, associate professor at the University of Queensland School of Public Health.
“However, it is important to look at each subtype separately to improve our knowledge and understanding of these cancers. This study may help inform medicine choice for women with osteoporosis and suggest areas for further research to better understand how ovarian cancer develops.”
Source Study: Journal of the National Cancer Institute — Nitrogen-based Bisphosphonate Use and Ovarian Cancer Risk in Women Aged 50 Years and Older | JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Oxford Academic (oup.com)