Women taking common medications to prevent osteoporosis may get an added benefit. Nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates such as risedronate (Actonel), ibandronate (Boniva), alendronate (Fosamax) and zoledronic acid (Zometa) cut the risk of endometrial cancer in half in a long-term study that included more than 23,000 women.
None of the women had cancer when the study began. Endometrial cancer is uncommon, affecting roughly 18 women in 10,000. It is unlikely that it would make sense to take such drugs only to prevent that type of cancer, since they do have side effects.
Nevertheless, it is good news to learn that drugs that are taken so widely have an unexpected protective effect against endometrial cancer.
To learn more about alendronate and its side effects, see our article.