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May 14, 1982

Metronidazole and Cancer

JAMA. 1982;247(18):2498-2499. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320430022015

To the Editor.—  Although metronidazole is mutagenic in rats1 and mice,2 and is reported to alter DNA synthesis,3 two previous human studies4,5 have found no positive association between metronidazole use and cancer rates. In view of the limited amount of available human data, we report here on a follow-up study of some 12,000 users of metronidazole in relation to the subsequent development of certain cancers.The investigation was carried out in cooperation with Group Health Cooperative (GHC) of Puget Sound, a comprehensive health organization in Seattle, which dispenses drugs prescribed to its members through conveniently located GHC pharmacies. The plan operates hospitals providing inpatient services to all members. From 1977 through 1979, the average GHC enrollment was about 265,000 members. All hospitalizations and drug prescriptions dispensed by the GHC since July 1976 are on computer files.6 Thus, exposure to specific drugs and incident cases of diseases