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January 26, 2007

New Data on Osteoporosis Risk in Older Men

Older men who have had one fracture have a much higher risk of a second fracture, putting their fracture risk on par with the risk older women face, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We found the protective effects of being a man disappeared altogether after the first fracture, putting them right up there with women who have also had a break. This goes to show the perception out there is really quite wrong."

Osteoporosis also a men's disease: study

Posted by Staff at 3:07 PM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2007

Osteoporosis Warning Signs

Here is a list of risk factors for osteoporosis from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Osteoporosis Foundation:

Bone breaks
Family history
Low dietary calcium and vitamin D
Excessive smoking or drinking alcohol
Low body weight
A chronic medical problem
Persistent back pain
Short height

Click on the link below to learn more about each.

Know the warning signs of osteoporosis

Posted by Staff at 2:10 PM | Comments (3)

January 4, 2007

Your Dentist Could Detect Osteoporosis

Researchers in England have discovered a way to tell their patients if they are suffering from osteoporosis. The new test is cheap, simple, and every dentist can do it.

The researchers developed a revolutionary, software-based approach to detecting osteoporosis during routine dental X-rays by automatically measuring the thickness of part of the patient's lower jaw, according to the study published in the journal Bone.

Ordinary dental x-rays could detect osteoporosis automatically
Detecting osteoporosis via dental X-rays

Posted by Staff at 6:59 PM | Comments (50)

October 13, 2006

Can Prozac Prevent Bone Loss and Osteoporosis?

A surprising new study has found that the antidepressant Prozac increases bone mass in some mice.

"Treating animals for six weeks with Prozac resulted in an increase in trabecular bone mass," said study lead author Ricardo Battaglino, assistant member of the staff in the department of cytokine biology at the Forsyth Institute in Boston. "It was a pretty significant 60 percent increase."

The study is surprising because a previous study in children found that Prozac slowed bone growth. Also, the new study found that Prozac only built bone in mice with circulatin estrogen in their bodies.

"It looks like, to be effective in relation to bone loss, Prozac needs to be in the presence of estrogen." This has implications for women moving into menopause who lose estrogen and have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Prozac May Protect Against Osteoporosis

Posted by Staff at 4:00 PM | Comments (296)

October 6, 2006

Cola Habit May Lead to Osteoporosis

Researchers have found that drinking too much cola - both diet and regular - may reduce bone density and contribute to osteoporosis in women. Interestingly, drinking cola seemed to have no effect on men's bone density.

Women who drank cola every week had a bone density that was 5% lower than women who didn't drink any cola.

The researchers did not work out specifically what in cola was to blame, however other studies have suggested that phosphoric acid, which is found in the drink, may cause calcium to be excreted from the body.

Women warned to stop drinking cola to avoid brittle bones

Posted by Staff at 4:03 AM | Comments (92)

September 26, 2006

Osteoporosis Fracture Risk Formula

Australian researchers have developed a formula for predicting fracture risk in women with osteoporosis. One surprising thing they found that fracture risk increased with body weight, contradicting previous studies that indicated lower body weight put women at higher risk for fractures.

The score successfully predicted 75% of fractures that occurred over two years of follow-up with 68% specificity, said Margaret Joy Henry, BSc, Ph.D., of the University of Melbourne in the October issue of Radiology.

Risk Score Predicts Fracture for Osteoporotic Women

'Magic formula' accurately predicts fracture risk in osteoporotic women

Posted by Staff at 9:20 AM | Comments (17)

August 7, 2006

Second-Hand Smoke May Lead to Osteoporosis

A Chinese study by scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health has found a link between inhaling second-hand smoke and osteoporosis. They studied 14,000 men and women who lived with at least one smoker every day.

They found that a pre-menopausal woman who lived with one smoker doubled her osteoporosis risk. If she lived with two more smokers, the risk tripled, BBC News reports. The women also had a 2.6 times greater risk for a non-spine fracture, compared to non-smokers, the researchers found.

2nd-Hand smoke: Bad for the bones

Posted by laura at 8:15 AM | Comments (177)

August 1, 2006

High Dose Steroids Cause Osteoporosis

Researchers are trying to find the connection between osteoporosis and high dose steroid use. With the help of genetically modified mice they are finding some interesting answers.

"High-dose cortisone is the second most common cause of osteoporosis, and we currently have no real treatment for this serious side effect," says senior author Steven L. Teitelbaum, M.D., Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology. "Given how frequently these drugs are used to treat many different conditions, that's a major clinical problem.

Why Do Steroids Cause Osteoporosis?

Posted by laura at 10:19 AM | Comments (55)

July 21, 2006

Kyphoplasty for Vertebral Compression Fractures

The foremost cause of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis. 700,000 cases occur every year. The fractures lead to a curvature of the spine. Patients become malnourished as compression of the stomach leads to a false sense of fullness that prevents them from eating and eventually leads to an overall deterioration of their bodies. And then there is the horrible pain.

The majority of patients respond favorably to traditional treatment which can include bed rest, analgesics, back-bracing, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants. But some patients suffer from prolonged pain and immobility that can persist for life.

Bill Ingram used to love camping and fishing with his wife, Elnora, down in Texas and meeting friends from all over the world, some of whom just sent him cards for his 86th birthday. But those days came to an end when osteoporosis caused fractures in his spine.

Kyphoplasty is a procedure to fix this. Two small incisions are made and a tube is inserted into the spine. A tiny balloon is inserted into the tube and inflated. This creates a cavity on both sides. The balloons are deflated and the cavities are filled with cement. The cement makes the vertebra stronger, the balloon restores its height and shape, and the pain is relieved in 95% of patients.

Breakthrough Procedure for Osteoporosis Patients
Kyphoplasty: A New Treatment for Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures

Posted by laura at 1:19 PM | Comments (8)

July 16, 2006

Hip Fractures in Elderly Don't Have to Lead to Disability

An amazing thing is happening in Australia. The National Health and Medical Research Council has funded the Hip Fracture Intervention Trial, or Hipfit. It is designed to help elderly people recover after hip fractures through strength and balance training. One woman who has gone through the program says she's in better shape now than she was before her hip fracture.

"A year after a hip fracture," says Dr Nalin Singh, a staff specialist in aged care at Balmain Hospital and one of the study's researchers, "one-third to one-half of people who break a hip are in a nursing home or more disabled than they were before the fall. The aim of Hipfit is to change that trajectory."

A dose of strong medicine

Posted by Tracy at 1:43 PM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2006

Dancing Builds Strong Bones

If you want your children to have stong bones as they age, you might want to encourage an interest in dance. A recent study published in Osteoporosis International found that dance training, especially in pre-adolescent children, had overwhelming positive effects on the skeleton. It optimized bone mass, reduced the risk of osteoporosis, and set the kids up for a lifetime of good bone health.

Brisbane endocrinologist Margaret Williamson, who has a special interest in osteoporosis, said studies such as the Melbourne one suggested that specific forms of exercise when done by pre-pubescent children could be beneficial in maintaining bone density long term.

Other types of exercise, including walking, running, and games like tennis and golf are also good. However, care should be taken to not take exercise to an extreme. If girls exercise too much once they're through puberty they may switch off their hormone production and lose their periods. The fall in estrogen could then cause a loss of bone.

Dancing for strong bones

Posted by laura at 2:39 PM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2006

Osteoporosis in Men

New research shows that men, especially those over 75, are at risk for osteoporosis. Declining levels of estrogen weakens bones and makes them prone to fractures. If you are a man over the age of 70 you might consider having a bone density test. The study also showed the rates of hip fracture greater for Hispanic men but the reasons for that are not known. The researchers studied 5,995 men.

Men face risk of osteoporosis

Posted by laura at 8:26 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

Does Fosamax Build the Wrong Kind of Bone?

Perhaps you think lawyers are blowing the Fosamax dangers out of proportion just to make a buck or two. Maybe you think that the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw is so rare that it isn't something you should worry about. After all, many people on these drugs have no side effects and their bone density scores have risen. Yes, these osteoporosis drugs may increase your bone density scores, but is it just window dressing? Are your bones really stronger or is it just the scores that are stronger?

John Abramson is a family practice physician on the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School. In his book, Overdosed America, he writes about osteoporosis, Fosamax, and the kind of bone it builds:

The new bone, formed as a result of taking the osteoporosis drugs, is then formed primarily on the outer part of the bone, the cortical bone. This increases the score on the bone density test but does not necessarily contribute proportionately to fracture resistance.

For the full excerpt on osteoporosis and Fosamax as well as more information about Dr. Abramson and his book, visit the link below.

Excerpt from Overdosed America

Posted by Tracy at 5:37 PM | Comments (3)

July 10, 2006

The Body Hunters: Drug Companies Find New Guinea Pigs

I was just flipping through the latest issue of Utne magazine and came across an article about drug companies going overseas to find cheap human guinea pigs. One example given is Pfizer and their trial of an osteoporosis drug called Oporia (lasofoxifene). I found it reprinted online so I can quote:

In Latin America, says Pfizer's Julio Camps, "you can have fast recruitment . . . at a very reasonable cost." ... Pfizer's trial of the osteoporosis drug lasofoxifene, for example, required experimental subjects to be "treatment-naive," that is, never treated for the condition. Argentina was "the number one recruiting site," Camps said, calling the country's ability to provide willing guinea pigs "amazing."

The author of the article, Sonia Shah, has written a book about this issue called The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients that will be released this month.

Walking Test Tubes

The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients

Posted by Tracy at 4:26 PM | Comments (6)

July 8, 2006

Mastering the Art of Drug Unswallowing

There's a must-read opinion piece by Stephen Strauss on the problem of biased evidence in the pharmaceutical world and how P & G, the makers of osteoporosis drug Actonel, fudged the data on a study of the effectiveness of the drug. I love his idea of the wish to master "the art of drug unswallowing."

Ah, you think as the water flushes the supposedly healing pharmaceutical down your throat, good to know that there must be unbiased evidence that taking it is good for me.

Nice belief. But if you had been at a recent lecture at the University of Toronto you might well have also wished you had mastered the art of drug unswallowing.

Inconvenient truths

Posted by Tracy at 4:29 PM | Comments (2)

July 6, 2006

Bone Drugs for Every Aging Woman in the World?

This passage from an article in yesterday's Monterey County Herald brings up the concern that doctors are prescribing bisphosphonates like Fosamax and Boniva to women who don't really need them, putting them needlessly at risk for jaw problems and other side effects:

... many postmenopausal women taking the pills may not really need them. Low bone density does not automatically progress to osteoporosis, and even when it does, a debilitating fracture is not inevitable.

Crystal Baxter, a former University of Pittsburgh professor of prosthodontics who now practices in Arizona, said she is very leery of doing elective dental implants in patients who have taken oral bisphosphonates.

"The scary thing," she said, "is that these drugs are being marketed to practically every aging woman in the world." (Monterey County Herald)

Posted by Tracy at 1:38 PM | Comments (1)

July 6, 2006

Dr. Weil on Strontium Ranelate for Osteoporosis

Back in December, a woman who was suffering side effects from Fosamax asked Dr. Weil if strontium ranelate was a good alternative. His response is an interesting read. Here's a brief excerpt.

A number of studies have shown that it can strengthen bone and reduce the risk of fractures, even among women 74 years of age or older when risks are highest. Use of strontium ranelate to strengthen bone and prevent fractures has been escalating since the positive results of a three-year clinical trial were published in the January 29, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Strontium: A Better Drug for Osteoporosis?

Posted by Tracy at 1:00 PM | Comments (4)

June 19, 2006

Concern Growing Over Bone-Rotting Side Effect

Here is another good news story on bisphosphonates for osteoporosis. Apparently when you take them the concentration in the bones begins to build up by the third year. Robert Marx, an oral surgeon who first alerted people to the problem three years ago, says that's why it's not surprising that there are starting to be more cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw now.

"Although Fosamax has been prescribed since 1995, usage grew dramatically about five years ago, which Marx said would explain why cases linked to that pill are only now being diagnosed. Actonel has been available since 2000, and Boniva was launched last year. Marx said he doesn't expect to see as many cases associated with those pills right now." (

Posted by laura at 11:58 AM | Comments (3)

June 19, 2006

Citrus Juice May Strengthen Your Bones

A glass or two of orange, grapefruit or other citrus juice each day may help prevent osteoporosis-linked bone fracture, a new U.S. study in rats concludes. (

Posted by laura at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2006

Rally With Sally Field and Boniva

Sally Field has joined with Boniva to get the word out about osteoporosis. She was diagnosed last year. The campaign is called Rally with Sally for Bone Health.

"Through a website and a toll-free number, the project is asking at-risk women to join Field in a signed pledge to improve their bone health. The pledge involves five steps: taking sufficient calcium and vitamin D, choosing and maintaining an osteoporosis drug regimen, exercising regularly, visiting a physician regularly, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol." (

I have seen her commercial on TV countless times, so I went to the website to check out the campaign and came away with some serious concerns. There on the homepage is indeed a request for patients to pledge or promise to do the above five things. I find little problem with promising to do 4 of them, but find it very offensive that they would ask patients to PROMISE to take an osteoporosis medication....right next to "click here" to find out more about Boniva. What a great thing for a drug company. Let's get women to promise to take their medication..... and hope they pick Boniva of course. (When you sign up they send you Boniva information.)

Sally Field has chosen to take Boniva. Although I am not a fan of bisphosphonate drugs in light of the recent lawsuits and revelations about jaw necrosis, I think it's great that she is drawing attention to osteoporosis. But teaming up with a drug company and asking people to sign a pledge and promise like little children to take a drug seems to me to be inappropriate and quite scary.

By the way, Roche, the manufacturer of Boniva, lists side effects on the site under Patient Information, but possible jaw necrosis is NOT listed. They just say there may be other possible side effects and you should consult your health care professional.

Related Entry: Sally Field, Boniva, and Media Ethics

Posted by laura at 7:10 PM | Comments (10)

June 13, 2006

Stontium Ranelate and Strontium Citrate

Strontium ranelate is new drug for osteoporosis from Servier Laboratories. New trial results show that the drug stops bone loss and encourages the growth of new reduced fractures in women aged 80 and over by a third. (

Also, here is a great article on strontium.... some opinions on its use and an explanation of the difference between strontium ranelate and strontium citrate. Strontium ranelate is the synthetic form and strontium citrate is the natural form of strontium. (

Posted by laura at 11:40 AM | Comments (44)

June 11, 2006

Osteoporosis Congress Closes

The largest world medical congress devoted specifically to osteoporosis ended in Toronto today, following five days in which nearly 4,000 participants from 98 countries learned of the latest research in this crippling bone disease and clinical strategies to treat patients more effectively. (

Posted by laura at 8:52 AM | Comments (45)

May 24, 2006

Your Jaw Bone in a Bucket

In the past month the osteoporosis drug Fosamax has been in the news due to lawsuits that allege it can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw. Fosamax is a bisphosphonate drug. Other drugs in this class include Boniva and Actonel, among others. Over 30 million women were given prescriptions for Fosamax last year. Since the story first came out I've been researching the subject and am working on a long post on this topic but for now here's a story about one woman who is suing Merck over Fosamax.

Raisor was told her jaw bone was going to end up in a bucket. "They took some out, took some out, kept taking more out," Raisor said.

They tried to save what they could. They used a metal plate for reinforcement.

It didn't work. (

Posted by Tracy at 6:45 PM | Comments (289)

May 10, 2006

Beer Is Good for Your Bones

Beer lovers, take note! Researchers have discovered that drinking a pint of beer a day may prevent osteoporosis. Apparently it is the ethanol in the beer that inhibits weakening of the bones. Even more amazing is that ethanol may be more effective than calcium at preventing bone loss.

Professor Jonathan Powell, who led the study, said: "This is a very interesting finding. Everyone knows that calcium inhibits bone loss but we found that the ethanol in beer has the same, if not better, effect." (Daily Mail)

This isn't the first time beer has been noted for its bone-building properties. In 2004, a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that high silicon intake, which is found in high levels in beer, has a positive effect on bone density in men and pre-menopausal women. (article)

So does this mean that women in countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic, where beer is a staple, have stronger bones? I'd like to research the rates of osteoporosis in the United States vs. heavy beer-drinking countries. There have been studies that show that heavy intake of meat and dairy products is linked to weaker bones (more on that controversial issue in a future post) so perhaps heavy animal protein intake in certain Northern European and Eastern European countries takes away somewhat from the positive benefits of beer consumption.

I think the research is mounting that Plato was right when he said: "He was a wise man who invented beer."

Posted by Tracy at 10:29 PM | Comments (1)

May 2, 2006

Interview with Joan Rivers on Osteoporosis

Joan RiversPriority Publications has provided this interview with Joan Rivers to the media. Rivers speaks about her diagnosis of osteoporosis and how she's taking measures to counteract it. I wish she'd specified which dietary supplements she's taking, but it's great that she is apparently trying to go a natural route.

Comedienne Joan Rivers Gets Serious About Osteoporosis

These days, when comedienne Joan Rivers utters her trademark phrase, “Can we talk?” she is more likely to follow it up with a discussion of osteoporosis than a set of one-liners. Osteoporosis is no laughing matter to Rivers, who was diagnosed with the brittle bone disease in 2002. Fighting back against her weakened bones hasn’t been easy, but Rivers has seen success: The comic says she’s been able to reverse the progress of her bone loss through exercise, diet and supplements. And now, as an ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Rivers is using her legendary gift of gab to share her story and raise awareness about the disease.

Priority Publications: Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease, because people often don’t show outward symptoms. How did you find out you had it?

Joan Rivers: I go for checkups every now and again and I never thought of getting a bone density test. But I went in for a complete workup and they discovered it. The doctor called me up and painted a picture that was so upsetting. He said, “You’re going to fall down and you’ll fall down because your bone breaks, not because you trip.” I was so upset, so right away I went to an osteoporosis specialist.

PP: How serious was your bone loss when you had that first bone density test?

JR: I don’t know specifically, but it was starting to take off. I was 64 at the time and it shocked and surprised me because I’m a very healthy person and I had no idea that was happening. But, you know, one woman in two and one man in four are at risk.

PP: What’s a typical day’s regimen for you now?

JR: Well, I’m a New Yorker, so I walk everywhere. And if there is a choice between stairs and the elevator, I’ll take the stairs. Weight bearing exercises – I go to the gym three times a week. And I take dietary supplements. You know, when I went back six months [after my initial diagnosis] the doctor saw a reversal of the symptoms. This is one of the things I want to get out: Not only can osteoporosis be slowed down or stopped, it can be reversed. Now, how many other diseases can be reversed?

PP: What is your advice to women – and men – who may be at risk?

JR: First of all, get a bone density test. It doesn’t hurt so you can be as big of a sissy as you want to be. And, second of all, get yourself moving! I have a back stairs and a front stairs in my home and very often I will go down one and then walk up the other just to go to another room.

PP: Have you found it hard to keep your sense of humor while facing this threat to your health?

JR: Oh no, not at all. I do jokes about it now, like: “My bones click so much that dolphins try to pick up on me.”

Posted by Tracy at 1:56 PM | Comments (14)


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