Save Our Bones Bulletin: Bisphosphonates Shown To Cause Inflexible Bones; Vitamin D Deficiency Linked To Low Muscle Function; Exercise Can Prevent Falls - Save Our Bones

The studies we review in this month's Save Our Bones Bulletin focus on our ability to keep improving our health as we age. Wherever you are in your bone-building journey, it's not too late to improve your well-being and quality of life.

The first study reveals the importance of bone flexibility for preventing fractures. The researchers were surprised to discover that bisphosphonates reduce bone flexibility and increase fracture risk. Of course, Savers already know that!

Next, we examine the results of a study that compared Vitamin D deficiency and poor muscle function in people over the age of 60.

Finally, we bring you scientific evidence on the power of exercise to prevent falls in older people.

Osteoporosis Drugs Reduce Bone Flexibility, Cause Fractures

A study conducted by Imperial College London found that flexibility in the nanostructure of bones influences fracture risk. Scientists assessed the bone density and flexibility of donated bone samples. Then they compared the measurements of three groups of participants.

Group one had not experienced any fractures. The second group had suffered a hip fracture and had taken bisphosphonates. The final group had suffered a hip fracture and had not taken bisphosphonates.

Relevant Excerpt

“Co-author Dr Richard Abel from the Department of Surgery and Cancer said: “We were surprised to see that bisphosphonate users seemed to have less flexible bone nanostructures. Perhaps after a long period of treatment in some patients, there is a loss of flexibility at the nanoscale that offsets some of the strength benefits from increases in bone density. More research is needed to determine exactly why this is and how this could affect clinical practice in long-term users.”

Lead author Dr. Shaocheng Ma from the Department of Mechanical Engineering said: “It's possible that the amount of mineral strain is key in setting off the fracture process. However, in patients who have taken bisphosphonates for a long time, the mineral could become too stiff, causing it to break away from the collagen. This releases the collagen and allows it to stretch uncontrollably, which then results in a fracture.”1

These scientists are exposing the simple truth: bisphosphonates cause bone fractures. This new research confirms what the Save Institute has pointed out from the beginning: there's more to bone health than just density.

Synopsis

A study at Imperial College London examined bone samples and found that people who took bisphosphonates had less flexible bone nanostructures and were more likely to have a fracture.

Vitamin D Deficiency Associated With Poor Muscle Function

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin analyzed data from 4,157 people aged 60 and over. In a newly published study, they found a link between Vitamin D deficiency and poor skeletal muscle function.

Muscle function is critical for preventing falls and maintaining mobility, quality of life, and independence. Exercise is the most important and well known way to maintain muscle strength.

This new research shows that adequate Vitamin D intake is crucial for muscle strength. Below are the key findings of the study.

Relevant Excerpt

The prevalence of muscle weakness was twice as high among older adults with vitamin D deficiency (40.4%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (21.6%).

Similarly, impaired ‘muscle performance' was 3 times higher in older adults with vitamin D deficiency (25.2%) compared with vitamin D adequacy (7.9%).

Based on more complex statistical analysis, the study showed that vitamin D deficiency significantly increased the likelihood of impaired muscle strength and performance.

The study confirmed the associated benefits of physical activity. Older adults partaking in regular moderate physical activity had a significantly lower likelihood of poor muscle strength and physical performance.

In summary, Vitamin D deficiency was associated with impaired muscle strength and performance in a large study of community-dwelling older people. It is generally accepted that vitamin D deficiency should be reversed to prevent bone disease, this strategy may also protect skeletal muscle function in ageing.”2

Savers already know the importance of Vitamin D for bone health. According to Wolff's Law, the pressure exerted on bone by muscle triggers new bone growth. That's why muscle strength is critical for the health and maintenance of bone.

Synopsis

Researchers at Trinity College London found a link between Vitamin D deficiency and poor skeletal muscle function in people aged 60 and over. Healthy muscle function is necessary for the development of new bone.

Exercise Shown To Prevent Falls

A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine provided insights into the relationship between exercise and falls for people aged 60 or older. The researchers conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of any form of exercise as a single intervention for preventing falls.

The results of the trials found that exercise dependably and significantly reduced the rate of falls.

Relevant Excerpt

“Exercise reduces the rate of falls by 23%. Different forms of exercise had different impacts on falls. Compared with control, balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24%

Multiple types of exercise (commonly balance and functional exercises plus resistance exercises) probably reduce the rate of falls by 34%. Tai Chi may reduce the rate of falls by 19%.

We are uncertain of the effects of programmes that primarily involve resistance training, dance or walking.”3

Notably, the most effective course of treatment was a combination of multiple types of exercise. This approach has the benefit of providing variety, which makes it easier to stay engaged and prevents boredom.

These results were so overwhelmingly clear that the authors recommended exercise programs to be implemented immediately to prevent falls. As Savers know, when you prevent falls, you prevent fractures and all the suffering that comes along with them.

Unfortunately, it seems that most doctors aren't reading these studies. Instead of prescribing exercise, which is proven to work and has astounding additional benefits, they continue to prescribe dangerous and ineffective drugs.

Synopsis

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that exercise is highly effective at preventing falls. Different forms of exercise reduced the rate of falls by different amounts. The highest reduction (34%) came from the combination of multiple forms of exercise.

What This Means To You

The three studies we looked at today prove the power of avoiding osteoporosis drugs, supplementing with Vitamin D3, and engaging in regular exercise.

The Save Institute created SaveTrainer so that Savers can take full advantage of the benefits of exercise. With SaveTrainer, you can build a customized workout routine filled with video classes led by world-class certified trainers.

Start Your Free 14-Day Trial of SaveTrainer

As today's studies show, we can keep improving our bone health well into our 60s and beyond. That improvement brings increased mobility, strength, independence, and a better quality of life.

References

1 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-08/icl-hfr082520.php

2 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191023104615.htm

3 https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/15/885

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  1. Joan

    The other side of D story-I was advised to take extra D-my new lab work showed my level was 107, I was taking what I was told to take-now reading all labels and finding small amounts of D in many products.
    Now I am off D for 3-4 months, but living with some negatives that are caused by high level.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      As you wrote, your Vitamin D levels are too high, but since you’re avoiding supplements that contain it, they will decline and come back within the desirable range. I hope you’ll feel better soon!

  2. Sue

    I was on Fosomax for seven years. Took myself off of it ten years ago. Would my bones still be inflexible and stiff today even though I’ve been off them for ten years?
    Thanks for all your advice!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Here’s the answer to your question, Sue (copied and pasted from the ORP):

      “According to a study published by The International Bone and Mineral Society titled “Long-Term Bisphosphonates for Osteoporosis: An Introduction”, by Dr. Gordon J. Strewler of Harvard Medical School, “the terminal half-life of alendronate (my note: alendronate is the generic name for Fosamax) is approximately 10 years.” In plain English, this means that half of the drug remains attached to the bone for that period of time.

      However, while alendronate released from the matrix during bone remodeling has been shown to inhibit osteoclasts, the above-quoted study found that the drug is active only when on exposed bone surfaces. As bone remodeling resumes and thus, new bone starts to form, it actually covers the alendronate, and “the drug is buried in bone and becomes inactive”

  3. Patricia

    Great article, Vivian. Thank you. Exercise helps us feel so much better also. Even just stiffness alone contributes a lot to feeling unwell. We should work on flexibility everyday using the guidelines that our physical therapists have given us if we ask them. I also am astounded that studies have pointed out that eating just 6 prunes a day can offer so much benefit to the building up of bones and that it also slows the normal breaking down of bones. Anything to avoid harmful drugs.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It’s my pleasure, Patricia! And you can read more about the bone-health benefits of prunes in this previous article:

      https://saveourbones.com/the-peculiar-bone-healthy-fruit/

      • wilma greene

        Hi Vivian, I will be 88 on Nov. 4, 2020.YEAH. I am one of those patients that took ACTONEL from year 2000 til 2009 when I went totally deaf in my right ear when they increased the dosage to 150mg once a month. I have never had a broken bone, YET!! I take no biophosphates or Parolia, PCP suggested it & I told him “i DO NOT TAKE THAT CRAP” He said its not crap, Wilma” I exercise every day before I get out of bed, walk when weather permits, no special diet! How do you think I am doing 5’5″ weigh 122 lbs, Taking 2000 IU
        of Vitamin D. Let me hear from you.

  4. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Ita!

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