Risk of colorectal cancer in users of bisphosphonates: analysis of population-based electronic health records

Gemma Ibáñez-Sanz, Elisabet Guinó, Caridad Pontes, Rosa Morros, Luisa C. de la Peña-Negro, Mª Ángeles Quijada-Manuitt, Victor Moreno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The use of bisphosphonates has been associated with a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) in observational studies, but with controversial results and difficult to interpret because of routine concomitant use of calcium and vitamin D. We aimed to assess the association between CRC risk and outpatient exposure to antiosteoporotic drugs using a large cohort with prescription data in Catalonia. A case–control study was performed using the Information System for Development of Primary Care Research (SIDIAP) which is a primary care medical record database that has linked data on reimbursed medication. The study included 25,836 cases with an incident diagnosis of CRC between 2010 and 2015 and 129,117 matched controls by age (± 5 years), sex and healthcare region. A multivariable model was built adjusting for known risk factors and comorbidities that were significantly associated to CRC in the dataset, and a propensity score for bisphosphonates. Tests for interaction for multiple drug use and stratified analysis for tumour location were prospectively planned. Overall 18,230 individuals (11.5%) were users of bisphosphonates. A significant but modest protective effect on CRC was observed for bisphosphonates (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.91–0.99), that was no longer significant when adjusted for calcium and vitamin D (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.93–1.03). Bisphosphonates, however, showed a dose–response effect with duration of use even when adjusted for calcium and vitamin D (OR for use > 40 months: 0.90, 95% CI 0.81–1.00, P value for trend: 0.018). The use of bisphosphonates was associated with a modest decrease in the risk of CRC, but this effect was essentially explained by concomitant use of calcium or vitamin D. The observed protective effect was stronger for long durations of use, which deserves further study.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2019


  • 25-(OH) D
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Calcium
  • Chemoprevention
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Vitamin D


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