It’s no secret to Savers that bisphosphonates damage bone and ironically, cause painful and life-changing atypical fractures. But just how far the damage goes has been recently elucidated, with research showing that bisphosphonates deteriorate bone integrity on multiple levels.
Today, I bring you two recent studies that reveal the disturbing truth about this popular class of osteoporosis drugs. We’re going to delve into exactly what these studies reveal about bisphosphonate drug therapy for osteoporosis, and the newly discovered mechanism that explains how they actually damage bone integrity.
Bipshosphonates Actually Damage Bone Quality
DXA scans only measure bone quantity. More bone indicates increased density, which the Medical Establishment interprets as greater bone strength.The problem with this approach, of course, is that there is a great deal more to bone health and strength than simply how much bone is present.
Healthful bone density increase should be accompanied by a corresponding increase in bone quality, tensile strength, and improved bone turnover in all layers and aspects of bone. Otherwise, it’s simply a measure of bone quantity, nothing more. And quantity does not indicate quality.
Bisphosphonates are designed to cease the healthy bone remodeling that promotes quality, which is indicated by bone flexibility and tensile strength. The following studies dissect how this eventually causes bone to become brittle and more prone to fracture.
The First Study: Apparent Structural “Gains” From Bisphosphonates Quickly Diminish
One hundred and eleven post-menopausal women with osteoporosis had their bone structure evaluated. Sixty-one of the women had taken bisphosphonates for at least four years, and their bone structure was measured against a control group of 50 women who had taken calcium and Vitamin D for the same time period.
Early on in the study, those who took bisphosphonates exhibited an apparent improvement in their bones’ structural integrity. But the improvement trend completely reversed after several years on the drug, with bone structural integrity deteriorating markedly.
The reason for this deterioration is the suppression of normal bone remodeling, which, as team representative Brian Gladnick comments:
“…might result in brittle bone that is prone to atypical fractures.”1
The Second Study: Atypical Femoral Fractures
The second study involved 21 post-menopausal women who had suffered atypical femoral fractures. A note on these types of fractures: they occur gradually, starting with a thin “crack” that looks like a stress fracture. Untreated, this crack can progress into a complete fracture.
Twelve of the women had taken bisphosphonates for an average of 8.5 years, and the other nine had never taken bisphosphonates. Scientists evaluated bone samples from the participants’ femurs during surgical placement of a femoral “nail” into the bone to repair the fracture. The samples included both microarchitecture and material properties of the bone (more on this later).
The material properties of the bisphosphonate-users’ bone showed significantly reduced heterogeneity in the bone tissue itself,2 which points directly to a reduction in bone integrity and tensile strength. I’ll explain.
Bone Heterogeneity And Why It Matters
Broadly speaking, the term “heterogeneity” refers to diversity. In specific reference to bone, heterogeneity describes the diverse makeup of bone tissue itself, which includes both soft, flexible collagen and hard, stiff mineral particles.
These two basic types of materials are continually in flux, as healthful remodeling tears down and renews bone matrix mineralization and the collagen “scaffold.” Bone is remarkable in that it provides maximum strength in combination with minimal mass.
This heterogeneous quality that combines flexibility, strength, and lightweight structure is directly responsible for bone’s fracture resistance. It is also a key aspect of fracture healing.
In contrast, bone density, which is measured by the popular DXA scan, is just one aspect of a very complex and fascinating process. To get a true picture of bone integrity, more precise, high-definition imaging is necessary.
Imaging techniques such as infrared and microspectroscopy allow the microscopic, cellular, and molecular aspects of bone integrity and remodeling to be viewed in remarkable detail. And those imaging techniques have revealed the crucial link between the ratio of collagen matrix and crystallized minerals3, and have also elucidated the role of increased AGEs, or Advanced Glycation End Products, in bone deterioration.4
AGEs are proteins that have bonded molecularly with sugar, so the higher your sugar consumption (and blood sugar), the greater potential there is for AGEs to form and wreak havoc.
In light of this concept of heterogeneity, Gladnick’s conclusion regarding both studies clearly show the extent of damage caused by bisphosphonate therapy:
“Patients who had been treated with bisphosphonates showed a reduction in tissue heterogeneity, specifically with mineral content and crystal size compared with the control group.”1
It’s Undeniable: Bisphosphonates Tamper With The Very Essence Of Bone Integrity
Because these drugs have been revealed to damage bone heterogeneity, they can be held responsible for extensive, fundamental harm to bone.
And yet, doctors continue to prescribe bisphosphonates, often for long-term therapy. Even if bisphosphonates are stopped after only a couple of years, the fact remains that they disturb the healthy bone remodeling process on a comprehensive level. The sad part is that these drugs have been designed to do exactly that.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
In sharp contrast to osteoporosis drugs, the Program gives you an easy-to-follow step-by-step natural protocol to improve bone quality, strengthen bone, and prevent fractures.
Till next time,
1 Gladnick, Brian, et al. “Quantity vs. Quality: Long-Term Use of Bone-Building Osteoporosis.” 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and Columbia University Medical Center. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310083439.htm
2 Donnelly, Eve, PhD, et al. “Reduced Cortical Bone Compositional Heterogeneity with Bisphosphonate Treatment in Postmenopausal Women with Intertrochanteric and Subtrochanteric Fractures.” J Bone Miner Res. 27. 3. (2012): 672-678. Web. June 12, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404705/
3 Paschalis, E.P., Mendelsohn, R., and Boskey, A.L. “Infrared assessment of bone quality: a review.” Clin Orthop Relat Res. 469. 8. (2011): 2170-8. Web. June 12, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21210314
Saito M, Marumo K. Collagen cross-links as a determinant of bone quality: a possible explanation for bone fragility in aging, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus. Osteoporos Int. 2010;21(2):195-214.