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Do Osteoporosis Drugs Cause Hair Loss? (The Answer May Shock You!)

hair-loss-bisphophonates

As if osteoporosis drugs couldn’t get any worse, recent research reveals that they may cause hair loss… to the point of baldness.

As explained in the Save Our Bones Program, bisphosphonates such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Reclast and their generic counterparts, interfere with a crucial biochemical pathway, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

The scientific term for hair loss is alopecia, and it’s dreaded by men and especially by women.

Causes Of Hair Loss

Hair loss can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Menopause and other shifts and changes in hormone levels
  • Increased DHT production, a form of testosterone associated with hair loss
  • Chronic stress
  • Pattern baldness
  • Deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
  • Iodine deficiency and other thyroid conditions
  • Illness
  • Medications (such as chemotherapy)

As you can see, hair loss can be caused by many different conditions. So if you’re taking bisphosphonates and experience loss of hair, it’s easy for the Medical Establishment to blame it on any number of things. It’s no wonder that bisphosphonate-caused baldness is grossly underreported.

Hair loss is one of many reasons why…

I Am So Glad I Never Took Fosamax

This popular bisphosphonate was prescribed to me back when I was first diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2004.

After I collected myself from the shock of being told I had a serious “disease” that could only be managed with drugs, I tore up the prescription and resolved to get at the root cause of osteoporosis. This is what brought about the Save Our Bones Program.

It’s a good thing I never took Fosamax, because baldness is only one item on a long list of frightening side effects that Fosamax can cause, including the irreversible condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Research Shows Bisphosphonates Can Cause Hair Loss

A group of Dutch researchers reviewed 53 reports of bisphosphonate-induced alopecia. Participants took alendronate (Fosamax) or risendronate (Actonel); the vast majority of alopecia reports (46) concerned alendronate.

While the “exact mechanism of bisphosphonate induced alopecia is unknown,”1 the researchers concluded that it’s most likely due to the fact that bisphosphonates block a particular enzyme, thereby interfering with an enzymatic pathway.1

Sounds familiar? If it does, it’s because I’ve devoted many pages of the Save Our Bones Program to give an explanation of…

A Crucial Enzymatic Pathway That’s Blocked By All Bisphosphonate Drugs

“…bisphosphonates begin their action on bone metabolism by blocking the enzyme farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FPPS) which is involved in the mevalonate pathway (also called the HMG-CoA reductase pathway).”2

This is the same mechanism by which bisphosphonates interfere with hair growth (and many other crucial body processes explained in the Program). Here’s what happens.

The hair on your scalp contains a structural component that is familiar to most of us: cholesterol. In the hair follicles, “cholesterol is partly absorbed and partly synthesized [sic] in hair follicles through the HmG-CoA-reductase pathway.”1

Statins, a popular class of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol, also disrupt this pathway. But “while statins disrupt the mevalonate pathway to stop cholesterol synthesis, they do not bind to bone surfaces.”2

This is why statins are not prescribed for osteoporosis. Knowing this, you’ll easily understand why…

Alopecia (Hair Loss) Is A Side Effect Of Statins And Bisphosphonates

While (thankfully!) alopecia is not a common side effect, it makes sense that both of these drugs could cause hair loss; they block the same metabolic pathway. In fact, hair loss is listed among the side effects of statins:

  • Eczematous (skin inflammation)
  • Pruritic rash (itchy skin)
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a life-threatening skin condition where skin cell death leads to the separation of the epidermis from the dermis)
  • Photosensitivity (extreme sensitivity to light)
  • Alopecia

And bisphosphonates also have a list of side effects that is extremely similar (and includes alopecia):

  • Pruritic rash
  • Skin rash which may be photosensitive
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • Severe skin reactions
  • Alopecia

Bear in mind, as mentioned earlier, that because alopecia can be blamed on many other causes, hair loss is an extremely underreported side effect.

How terrible that so many people would risk these and dozens of other dangerous side effects in order to take drugs that aren’t needed.

Yes, that’s right – statins, like bisphosphonates, are completely unnecessary.

In fact, to give you one example, a recent study reveals that…

Walking 40 Minutes A Day Offers The Same Benefits As A Statin

This study is the first to actually quantify the extent to which walking can improve cardiovascular health. According to the study leader Dr Thomas Yates,

“Doing 4,000 extra steps a day reduces your cardiovascular risk by about 16-20 per cent, which is the equivalent of taking a statin. However, a statin has side effects and only reduces cholesterol, whereas walking has a much bigger range of health benefits.”3

Unlike statins, walking offers a host of positive “side effects,” including stronger bones. Savers already know how important regular walking is to build bone density and the importance of taking Foundation Supplements that nourish bones, skin, and hair.

And this might surprise you, in addition to building your bones…

Foundation Supplements Boost Hair Health!

The following nutrients are listed as Foundation Supplements in the Save Our Bones Program, and they also happen to be excellent for hair health:

Biotin is sometimes called Vitamin H, and works synergistically with the B complex vitamins niacin and cobalamin (also Foundation Supplements). These vitamins help metabolize proteins, including the proteins that make up your hair, thereby building thicker, stronger hair that is less prone to breakage.

Vitamin C deficiency is characterized by hair loss, because it is essential for the synthesis of collagen and the production of tyrosine. Both collagen and tyrosine are essential for maintaining the structure of hair, and the cells that make up hair follicles.

Zinc – did you know that you lose zinc when you sweat? This hair- and bone-healthy mineral, found in Foundation Foods like pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, and almonds, promotes hair growth.

Vitamin D is well-known to Savers as the “sunshine vitamin.” Found in just a few acidifying foods (salmon and sardines, for example), Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in the natural cycles of your hair follicles.

Isn’t it fascinating that hair health and bone health are so closely intertwined? It just goes to show that if you take care of your bones, your whole body benefits.

Unlike dangerous drugs, the lifestyle and diet described in the Save Our Bones Program offer only positive “side effects” – and certainly no hair loss!

Till next time,

References

1“Alopecia caused by alendronate and risedronate.” Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb. January 2009. PDF file. Web. http://www.lareb.nl/larebcorporatewebsite/media/publicaties/kwb_2008_2_alendr.pdf

2 The Save Our Bones Program, 2007

3 Yates, Thomas, PhD, et al. “Association between change in daily ambulatory activity and cardiovascular events in people with impaired glucose tolerance (NAVIGATOR trial): a cohort analysis.” The Lancet. 22 March 2014. Vol 383, Iss 9922, Pgs 1059-1066. Doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62061-9. Web. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2813%2962061-9/abstract

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28 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Marlene April 19, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Dear Vivian
    Thank you very much for your encouraging e-mails,as well as the recent book ,SaveOURbonesprogram.
    I stopped taking actonel dr(35mg) last March 27 and
    crestor last april 24,this year. Despite that i had been taking these medications for a long time with damages,
    I believe that it’s not too late for me to start and follow
    your program. I believe Vivian that GOD answer my
    prayers directing me through your website. Thank you
    very much for everything.
    Take care always, Marlene

  2. tisha April 13, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Dear Vivian,
    I take a tablespoon of “diatomaceous earth” every day because my brother said it would help my bones. He is the one who warned me off Fosamax. My finger nails are strong now for the first time in my life, so I hope the bones are the same. I do seem to have less hair, however, and would love to build it back up. There is a supplement ,”Restore FX”, that is supposed to block DHT. Should I order it?
    All your information has been so very helpful Vivian!!
    Thank you, Tisha

    • Tisha April 15, 2014, 12:16 pm

      Dear Vivian,
      Please let me know what you think of taking a DHT blocker product, Restore FX.
      Thank you, Tisha

  3. Frances Miller April 1, 2014, 7:06 pm

    Vivian, I am losing quite a bit of hair and was wondering why. I have had a lot of stress this past year. In July I was mugged…he hit me on the back of the head, knocked me to the pavement stole my purse and broke my arm. (Ladies do be very careful when you are out). Then my house was flooded with water and a short while back I had surgery on a kidney. I don’t handle stress very well so I guess that is the reason for hair loss. Also I lost a lot of weight. Any suggestions on gaining some weight. When I was diagnosed with Osteo the doctor wrote a prescription for “one” of the famous drugs. I went on line and was so blessed to find you, Vivian. I never took the medication. I am doing well and am always so glad to find your alkaline recipie I appreciate all your wonderful info. Fran Miller.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 2, 2014, 8:04 am

      My goodness, Frances! That is a tremendous amount of stress and difficulty. It’s completely understandable that you experienced some physical problems! You sound like you’re on the right track now, though, and I hope you’ll soon be free from osteoporosis and stress. :)

  4. Rosa Luquesi March 30, 2014, 8:47 am

    Hi Vivian,

    Thank you for every thing you are doing for as. I’m no placing any comment, I only want to ask you some thing. About 4 or 5 years ago mi mother was given an injection
    of some kind of drug for osteoporosis, she is 87 years old, and now she hardly can walk, she complaint that her legs are very week from the knee down. Her doctor doesn’t know why that is happening. It could be that, the drug given to her is causing that to happen?
    Please, I would like to know if you have any answer and it is something that can be done.
    Kind Regards,
    Rosa

  5. Anne Shadbolt March 28, 2014, 7:16 pm

    I took fosamax for 12 months a few years ago. At the end of that time I was diagnosed with auto immune disease based on 2 large bald patches at the back of my head. Also diagnosed with migraine/mini strokes.
    Funny thing both vanished when I threw the Fosamax in the bin!

  6. Ms. L. Carmel March 28, 2014, 5:49 pm

    Hi! Vivian,

    I Have All The Vitamins Except Biotin. I’ll Have To Try It! Thank You Very Much, As Always, For Sharing Your Articles With Us.

    Take Care And Stay Well.

    LOVE, LESLIE (MS. L. CARMEL)

  7. virginia nichols March 28, 2014, 2:35 pm

    My doctor keeps trying to get me to take Fosamax and I keep refusing. I took it for 5 years earlier in life and are now afraid of the side effects. I am even a little afraid of Calcium because they cause cramps in my legs. I do try to walk as much as possible and eat better. Advise me if there is another solution. Thank you so much for all the valuable information.

  8. Mary Ann March 28, 2014, 11:41 am

    Where can I purchase the water distilling machine you talked about previously? We are moving and need to NOT drink city water.

    • Customer Support March 28, 2014, 2:18 pm

      Dear Mary Ann,

      We wish you a seamless move! Here’s the link to the Waterwise Distiller: http://saveourbones.com/waterwise
      Enjoy clean and delicious water in your new place!

  9. Faye Clarkson March 28, 2014, 9:03 am

    Thank you for our newsletter.

    I was reviewing my medical files. As of about two years ago, my current specialist has changed my bone review. I have gone from a high risk of fracture to a low risk.

    I am also happy, that I am medication free, fortunately. I do my best to avoid all medication and over the counter ones as well.

    I will be going for a check up this year, for my bones, as well as other medical checks.

    On another topic, some doctors say, the condition a person has is genetic. How much is genetic and how much are other factors a contributing factor. This is something I continually am curious about. I can see both sides of the story, concerning any medical condition.

    I am not in any rush to have another BMD test, suppose I should go this year, then I will know the status of my bones.

    I missed my test in 2013, due to other commitments.

    Will update later.

  10. Sylvia Miller March 27, 2014, 1:00 pm

    What do you know about strontium for strenghtening bones?

    • Customer Support March 28, 2014, 8:27 am

      Sylvia, Vivian has written a lot on this topic! If you type “strontium” into the search box at the top of the page, you’ll see a list of all the articles she’s written on this topic. :)

  11. Mary Anne March 27, 2014, 11:30 am

    My Mother was hospitalized with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. She was very weak. They told her that she has osteoporosis. Not sure what test, they are basing the osteoporosis diagnosis on. They told her not to try and walk. At the hospital and the rehab facility, they had 2 people pick her up. Now she is at home and using a wheel chair full time. I think she would be better trying to stand and walk. This seems like a mess of liability and managing patients.

  12. Sue Healy March 27, 2014, 10:04 am

    Dear Vivian,
    I’m 59 years old and was shocked to learn 2 years ago (after a stress fracture of my fibia) that I had osteoporosis in L2 (-2.8) and L4 (-3.0). My hip and femur scores were just slightly osteopenic.

    Ive been following your advice since I decided not to take drugs, which my GP had immediately prescribed for me. I had the blessing of my open minded Consultant Physician, who advised I try your system for two years and have another scan to see how I was doing.

    Ive just had the result of my second DEXA scan and the scores have improved L2 now – 2.5, L4 now -2.5. Overall the bone density of every vertebra has improved. Im thrilled that Ive made this improvement in my bone density in spite of being two years older. This makes an improvement even more impressive.

    Its really encouraging and I will certainly keep up the regimen as I also feel fitter and more energetic than Ive ever felt in my life. Thanks for all your great advice.
    Sue

    • catherine boxall March 28, 2014, 2:03 pm

      hi Sue, well done wish all docs were as open minded as yours, just fractured my wrist which wasn’t 100% due to falling but smashing into a heavy mirror. Will be sent for another Dexa scan, you normally only get 1 in England that was about 5 years ago. I have been trying Vivian’s program for a while now, {came off Aloadronic Acid a few years ago} though not the calcium pills True Osteo but working out the cost of importing. Could I ask you a question please, Have you been taking True Osteo or any other form of calcium? many thanks Catherine
      Many thanks to Vivian for all this info.

      • Sue Healy March 29, 2014, 4:14 am

        I’ve been taking Algaecal which is made by a Canadian company. You can buy it online from an english supplier but its so popular it sells out. I have ordered from canada and it comes in a week and works out almost the same price. Very similar to trueosteo. I take all the recommended bone builders religiously. Good luck

        • Sue Healy March 29, 2014, 4:18 am

          PS I asked my GP to refer me for a second dexa 2 years after diagnosis. If they refuse I think it’s less than £100 to pay privately.

          • catherine March 29, 2014, 12:20 pm

            Hi Sue, many thanks for the info that’s just what I needed I will do that. Do you live in America? warm wishes catherine

  13. Olivia March 27, 2014, 5:54 am

    Yes! This is the answer to my hair loss. Huge amounts would come out as I washed it and it is most depressing. Doctors dismissed it as a mystery. I have stopped the bisphosphonates for over three years now and the hair loss is slowing. Will it come back again? I take a multivitamin and eat fresh fruits and vegetables and do most of my own cooking and baking as I am Coeliac so have to take care about gluten.
    Thank you for this information as it has solved my ‘mystery’. The stress of not finding a cause has been intense and has not improved my bones!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 27, 2014, 7:40 am

      You’ve touched on another seldom-mentioned problem, Olivia: stress! It can worsen whatever condition started your stress to begin with, and it’s bad for your bones. I am so glad you’re doing your research, and you’re finding some answers here! :)

  14. Alison March 27, 2014, 5:11 am

    Read this and just had to comment. Just two tablets of Fosamax triggered major hair loss for me. Thank goodness I stopped. Had lots of other side effects too. The hair loss was so bad I ended up wearing a wig for about 9 months and even now, more than two years later my hair is still not what it was, but it’s getting there. I had a carrier bag full of hair. The Fosamax also triggered hair loss on my legs and elsewhere, and my legs are still hair free. The stuff is poison, don’t touch it.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 27, 2014, 7:39 am

      How frightening, Alison! I hope you’re getting lots of hair-healthy nutrients now.

  15. Trudy March 27, 2014, 4:17 am

    I just wonder if swimming has the same benefits as walking. I am an avid swimmer, especially since I had 2 spinal & 1 knee surgery. I still walk in winter, but often experience some pain whereas swimming, I swim 1.5 to 2 km at the time, seems to be so easy because of the weightlessness.

    • joan connor March 28, 2014, 4:07 pm

      Hi Trudy,my doctor told me a few years ago that swimming was the only thing that i was not to do as it was not good for osteoporosis.It did not make any difference to me as i don’t like swimming,just taught i would mention it to you.
      regards Joan

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 27, 2014, 7:37 am

      Hi Trudy,
      Swimming is a fantastic injury-free workout. Water provides resistance, so you do reap some benefits of weight-bearing exercise. It’s not the same as walking, though – walking involves greater impact and therefore more weight-bearing benefits. :) But by all means, keep swimming and do what works best for your body and your situation!

      • mary Anne March 27, 2014, 11:16 am

        How about walking in the water? Will that increase bone density?

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