Earlier this year British researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine the case of a woman who was being treated for Crohn’s disease with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) medications and developed lung cancer. They raised a concern that anti-TNF drugs, as a result of their action in depressing the immune system, may increase the overall risk of cancer.
Spanish researchers who are presenting their research at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in San Francisco say their studies do not support that conclusion.
The researchers, from the Fundacion Espanola de Reumatologia in Madrid, Spain based their findings on two studies which used health data extracted from two Spanish databases of patients.
The first study involved almost 4,500 people who had been taking anti-TNF drugs between 2001 and 2007. The second study included data collected between 1999 and 2005 on 800 people with rheumatoid arthritis who were not taking anti_TNFs.
Ultimately they determined there were only 70 cases of cancer among those that were taking the drugs compared to 29 cases among those that did not take the drugs.
“Despite foreseen fears, blocking the tumor necrosis factor does not make patients more prone to develop cancer,” said Dr. Loreto Carmona of the Fundacion Espanola de Reumatologia.