Osteoporosis Medications: Do They Really Work?
That two word phrase – osteoporosis medications – it’s so commonplace that most of us don’t think much about it. Medications sounds normal, doesn’t it? And of course, big pharma wants you to think it’s normal, too! Like reaching for a pain reliever when you have a headache, reaching for osteoporosis medications at the first sign of decreasing bone density is becoming the norm.
How did this happen?
It began when researchers noticed the tendency of older people, particularly women, to break bones. They also discovered “holes” or open spaces in the bones of older women, which gave rise to the name osteoporosis, which means “porous bone.” During the first half of the 20th century, “frail” bones were treated with estrogen. Estrogen prevents bone loss, and estrogen levels decrease after menopause. But estrogen alone wasn’t doing the trick, particularly for women who already had an advanced case of the disease. Researchers began to realize that osteoporosis is connected to the process of bone remodeling, and they started looking for a way to stave off the bone resorption (bone loss) that happens as part of this tear-down-and-replace process. Bisphosphonates were born as one of the first osteoporosis medications.
Generally speaking, osteoporosis medications work by either stopping bone loss or by stopping bone loss and increasing bone density (“antiresorptives”). Some of the more common osteoporosis medications and how they work include:
- Bisphosphonates: interfere with the action of osteoclasts (cells that break down bones).
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs): increase bone density by selectively acting as estrogen in bone.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): protects bone mass by replacing hormones that decrease after menopause.
- Parathyroid Hormone (PTH): considered anabolic, which means it builds new bone.
Sounds ideal, right? You can take a pill and stop the nasty bone loss! Shall we get in line for our osteoporosis medication, then?
Osteoporosis medications are not a panacea.
Research shows that the long-term effects of osteoporosis medications are less than ideal. In fact, not only do they have some unpleasant side effects such as nausea, esophageal inflammation, and muscle pain, they may actually damage your bones themselves!
The connection between osteoporosis medications and osteonecrosis of the jaw is well-known. This is a condition that causes your jaw to develop deep infections that can result in the loss of your jawbone.
Some informative studies have shown that bisphosphonates – one of the most common osteoporosis medications – actually…
Increase the risk of femoral fractures.
And that’s what these medications are supposed to help prevent!
These fractures of the femur are called “atypical,” because they do not conform to the typical fractures of the hip and spine that bisphosphonates are intended to prevent. A recent Swedish study1 points to the increased risk of atypical femoral fractures in bisphosphonate users. The study also showed that the increased risk for developing these fractures was quite rapid, but thankfully reversible.
That’s great news for anyone wanting to move from osteoporosis medications to the Save Our Bones program!
The thing about osteoporosis medications is that they harden bone. That’s good, right? Aren’t hard bones tougher to break? Not really. Imagine a stick you find outdoors. If it’s a “green” stick, it’s soft and supple, and you can bend it pretty far before it breaks. On the contrary, a seasoned stick will snap quickly with very little bend, because it’s dry and hard.
You want your bones to be flexible and bendable to resist breaks.
Osteoporosis medications will undermine that important supple quality.
When you think about it, the whole concept of osteoporosis medications is off base. After all, medications are for diseases, and osteoporosis is not really a disease! It’s what your body does in response to an imbalance. Simply correcting that imbalance by natural means can correct the problem. Natural alternatives in the form of diet and supplements can stop and reverse bone loss. The Save Our Bones Program gives clear, understandable methods to build and protect your bones without the use of these dubious medications. New testimonies come in from participants in the Program all the time! Please read these success stories to alleviate any doubt.
1Schilcher J, Michaelsson K, Aspenberg P. Bisphosphonate use and atypical fractures of the femoral shaft. N Engl J Med. 2011; 364: 1728–37.