This month we take a deep dive into a range of research relating to bone health and the future of osteoporosis interventions.
First, we'll look at a new initiative to develop a tool for calculating the risk of side effects from bisphosphonates. Long-term use of the drugs is known to cause atypical fractures and more.
Then we'll look at a study-in-progress in Switzerland. Researchers are analyzing the ability of different tests and measurements to predict fracture risk. The prominence of the DXA test as the most widely used bone health indicator may soon be over.
An 11-million-dollar study is seeking new interventions to maintain strong communication between muscle and bone during aging. Researchers are especially interested in the amino acid tryptophan. Could it be a key component for maintaining muscle mass and strong bones?
We'll get you up to speed on the latest research to ensure you're making the best choices for your bones and your future.
Upcoming Study Will Measure Impacts Of Bisphosphonate Use Over Time
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding a five-year study to analyze the risks and benefits of long-term bisphosphonate use. Bisphosphonates are a class of osteoporosis drugs that suppresses the function of osteoclasts, the cells responsible for resorbing old and damaged bone material.
The principal investigator for the study is Dr. Laura Carbone. She will be charged with leading a team who will analyze the data and develop a risk calculator. This calculator is a tool that physicians can use to discuss the risk of taking bisphosphonates with their patients.
“Carbone does not question that the long-term use of these drugs can lead to atypical femur fractures, because in certain people after a while the drugs actually shut down rather than augment the healthy balance that most of us are fortunate to have in our youth, Carbone says. Within the first year after you stop taking the drugs, the risk of these atypical fractures declines about 70%.”1
Unfortunately, this sort of calculator won't provide patients with a truthful representation of their options. It will instead operate on a false binary, only presenting two paths: taking bisphosphonates or not.
In reality, there are a wide variety of other actions you can take to reduce your fracture risk. Those actions include adjustments to diet, exercise habits, and lifestyle– all of the approaches included in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Those interventions don't have any negative side effects– in fact, they only improve other health outcomes.
Any “calculator” that doesn't include all of the options available to patients is inadequate.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the development of a tool to help physicians calculate a patient's risks when taking bisphosphonates. The drugs can cause severe side effects like atypical fractures. Unfortunately, the calculator only considers one path to stronger bones, bisphosphonates, ignoring the proven-effective drug-free approach.
OsteoLaus Study Expands View Of Bone Health Testing
An ongoing study in Lausanne, Switzerland is gathering data from about 1,234 women. Researchers gathered a variety of data about the participants' bone health, including questionnaires, DXA scans, Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX), and trabecular bone score (TBS).
The researchers are following up with the participants every 2.5 years to see what changed and whether participants have experienced fractures.
“Those who fractured were older. They also had more visceral fat and thicker soft tissue. Additionally, they had lower BMD at the LS (lumbar spine), FN (femoral neck), and hip; had lower TBS; and had higher FRAX values than those who did not fracture.
Our findings in the OsteoLaus Study validate the importance of using current as well as newer bone assessment tools for osteoporosis diagnosis and for fracture risk prediction and osteoporosis diagnosis.”2
While this study is not complete, the data they published about their cohort and the results thus far indicate that bone mineral density (BMD) alone was not as effective for predicting fracture as the use of a variety of risk assessment tools.
This is yet more evidence that BMD is not as important as Big Pharma has insisted for years.
This particular study emphasizes TBS (trabecular bone score) as an important additional tool. However, that special emphasis is compromised by a conflict of interest: the study's author disclosed that he is a shareholder in the company that sells the TBS calculating software.
The study's overall findings reinforce the Save Institute's foundational position that BMD cannot alone provide a comprehensive or even accurate picture of bone health.
A Swiss study with 1,234 participants compared the ability of various bone health measurements to predict fracture. They found that Bone Mineral Density alone was not as effective as a combination of tools, including DXA scans, Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX), and trabecular bone score (TBS).
Study On The Links Between Muscle And Bone
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia are leading a five-year, 11-million-dollar initiative to study the metabolic relationship between muscle and bone during aging.
Muscle loss during aging, called sarcopenia, is a major risk fact for falls and fractures. The study aims to identify early, optimal points for novel interventions that could improve the health of muscle and bone to prevent negative outcomes.
“Early in the complex biological dynamic than can go awry with age is tryptophan, an essential amino acid many of us associate with making us sleepy after a big turkey dinner. But (principal investigator Dr. Carlos) Isales calls tryptophan “an important centerpiece of metabolism,” which helps us produce and maintain important proteins, enzymes even neurotransmitters that enable brain cells to communicate with each other and other cell types, like the constant communication between our brain and body so we can flex our muscles and move our legs.”3
The body breaks down tryptophan into compounds that the body requires in a specific balance. When that balance is off, the results include depression, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease.
The study leaders emphasize that improving bone health can improve muscle health and vice versa. Tryptophan and its derivative compounds strengthen communication between the two.
It remains to be seen whether this research will result in interventions that can be safely applied, like dietary interventions including tryptophan. Conversely, the research could lead to the development of new drugs, with currently unknown side effects, for Big Pharma.
Researchers in Georgia are studying how the amino acid tryptophan impacts communication between muscle and bone during aging. Tryptophan may plan a role in muscle loss, as well as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and depression. The study has not yet concluded but may point the way toward future interventions involving tryptophan and its derivatives.
What This Means To You
The scientific and medical communities are pursuing a deeper understanding of how our bodies work and what we can do to keep them stay healthy. However, not all applications are equally safe or effective.
That's why it's important to stay abreast of the latest developments and learn about the research that's underway.
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is based entirely on rigorous scientific studies, published in peer-reviewed journals. And the Save Institute continually assesses new studies to ensure that we're bringing the most useful information to your attention.
Keep learning about the latest osteoporosis and osteopenia developments and pursuing a bone-healthy future!