Not so long ago, my youngest son Michael asked me to help him with his Biology homework. While I was absent-mindedly thumbing through his 300 plus page textbook, a sinking feeling swept me right away…and stayed with me for quite some time.
At first I could not figure out why I suddenly felt that way, but soon I realized what had happened. In my own mind, the impersonal style of the book and how it explained certain aspects of the human body made me think of those who are faithfully taking their prescription drugs to improve one or more health condition.
From cholesterol-lowering drugs to osteoporosis drugs to improve bone density, millions of people believe that the miraculous effects of chemicals will improve a certain medical condition. And please don’t get me wrong – there’s some good news, in a certain weird way, because the drugs may do just that. The bad news is that it may be their only benefit.
Let me explain what I mean: a cholesterol-lowering drug may indeed lower cholesterol but not reduce the chances of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular ailments. And the same principle applies to the most popular osteoporosis and osteopenia drugs Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva: over the years they may produce thicker and denser bones, but they may not prevent fractures. In fact, these very same osteoporosis and osteopenia drugs may actually increase the chances of breaking a bone!
New mounting evidence suggests that long-term use of these osteoporosis drugs may cause spontaneous fractures- even of large bones such as the femur.
How is that possible, you might rightly ask? The answer is that thanks to the methods by which scientific studies are set up and results are analyzed, a large number of prescription drugs may show that they produce healthy statistics, but not healthy people. And make no mistake; the same statistical information is used by the FDA as part of the drug approval process.
So before embarking on a “take this pill and forget about it” mission, think twice. You certainly don’t want to end up as a simple statistical number. Explore all other possibilities first and most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask questions to your doctor.
And if you would like to ask me a question (or two) about osteoporosis or osteopenia, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be there for you, always.
Stay healthy and be smart and inquisitive,