PRESS RELEASENovember 13, 2018

Osteoporosis medication associated with decrease in breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

  • November 13, 2018

November 13, 2018  |  Download Release

TORONTO, November 13, 2018 – Across Canada, over 26,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. According to a new study from Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) scientist, Joanne Kotsopoulos, PhD, denosumab, an osteoporosis medication, may have the potential to offer long-term protection against breast cancer development.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that denosumab use was associated with a 13 per cent decrease in breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. The findings represent the first report of the link between denosumab use and subsequent reduction in breast cancer risk for women over age 67. 

“It’s important for us to identify novel and highly effective therapeutic prevention strategies for breast cancer, as the uptake for current options for women at an elevated risk of developing the disease is very low,” says Kotsopoulos. “Denosumab has the potential to be valuable in primary prevention settings, particularly for women at high risk such as BRCA1 mutation carriers.”

To investigate the link between denosumab use and breast cancer, a population-based study was conducted by looking at over 20,000 women in Ontario age 67 or more who had used denosumab. In addition to being prescribed as an osteoporosis medication, denosumab is also prescribed to cancer patients to prevent treatment-induced skeletal complications including bone loss. It’s estimated that one per cent of older women in Ontario are prescribed the medication as an osteoporosis treatment each year.

After a maximum of five years of follow-up, denosumab users had a significantly lower cumulative incidence of breast cancer, suggesting that a short course of the medication has the potential to offer long-term protection. Kotsopoulos notes that future studies will need to further evaluate the relationship between denosumab and breast cancer risk reduction for younger patients and across additional years of follow-up.




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