Fosamax May Cause Esophageal Cancer
The osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate) is taken by millions in an attempt to prevent painful bone fractures which may occur with osteoporosis. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in it's January 2, 2009 issue that links Fosamax with esophageal cancer.
The study reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports of 23 patients in the United States who were diagnosed with esophageal cancer while taking Fosamax. The time frame of the reporting was between the initial marketing in October 1995 through mid-May 2008. There were no similar reports for other oral bisphosphonates in the FDA's database for adverse-event reporting. By the time of publishing the study, there were eight deaths.
Other anti-osteoporosis drugs in the same class (bisphosphonates) include Boniva, Actonel, and Didronel. Currently, there is no link between these drugs and esophageal cancer, but FDA officials caution that they can not rule out similar problems developing with those drugs in the future.
An estimated 10 million people (men and women) in the United States suffer from osteoporosis. Many more are at risk of developing the disease. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.
There is no cure for osteoporosis. Fosamax and other brands of oral bisphosphonates are often the first line of defense against osteoporosis. The drugs are used to help increase bone density which can help prevent broken bones.
Your esophagus is the hollow tube that carries food and liquids from your throat to your stomach. Early esophageal cancer usually does not cause symptoms. As the cancer grow, symptoms may include painful or difficult swallowing, weight loss and coughing up blood. Risk factors for developing esophageal cancer include smoking, heavy drinking, and damage from acid reflux.