Osteoporosis medication associated with decrease in breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women
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.
Women’s College Hospital
For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole.
Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) is tackling some of the greatest health challenges of our time. Its scientists are conducting global research that advances the health of women and improves healthcare options for all, and are then translating those discoveries to provide much-needed improvements in healthcare worldwide.