Early-onset osteoporosis linked to cancer risk
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Early onset of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis seems to be related to an increased risk of certain cancers, while later onset of osteoporosis may be related to a decreased risk of other cancers, researchers report.
They note in the International Journal of Cancer that the risk of breast, endometrial and other cancers has been reported to be lower among women with pre-existing osteoporosis. This is most likely because of lower estrogen levels, which increase the likelihood of osteoporosis but reduce the odds of certain cancers.
"Other osteoporosis risk factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, however, may increase risk," Dr. Katherine A. McGlynn, of the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues suggest.
To look into this possibility, the researchers studied data on nearly 24,000 men and women in Denmark with osteoporosis who were followed for about 6 years.
Compared to the general population, individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis before age 70 years had an increased risk of malignancy, partially due to higher rates of cancer involving the mouth, esophagus, liver, pancreas and lungs.
Conversely, osteoporosis diagnosis at age 70 or older was associated with a decreased cancer risk, due in part to lower rates of breast, endometrial, colon, rectal, and brain cancers in women, and lower rates of prostate cancer in men.
McGlynn and colleagues say the findings imply that individuals who are "hospitalized with osteoporosis prior to age 70 may benefit by more regular cancer screening, particularly for tumors associated with smoking and alcohol consumption."
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, April 15, 2008.