The Food and Drug Administration says it is investigating whether a popular group of bone-strengthening drugs increases the risk of throat cancer after the publication of conflicting studies on the issue.
Bisphosphonate pills are routinely prescribed for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and include brands like Fosamax and Boniva.
FDA regulators say they have not reached a conclusion on the issue and will report their findings after an extensive review. They do not recommend precautionary throat screenings for patients.
Last fall a British study of 3,000 patients with esophageal cancer reported a slightly higher rate among those taking bisphosphonates. An analysis of 80,000 U.K. patients released one month earlier found no cancer link with the drugs.
Bisphosphonates do cause inflammation of the esophagus, which some scientists believe could increase cancer risk.