Save Our Bones Bulletin: This Month’s Big Pharma Funded Osteoporosis Celebration, Last Month’s World Osteoporosis Congress, The Future Of Fracture Risk Assessment
May is a very busy month in the world of bone health. The National Osteoporosis Foundation is celebrating National Osteoporosis Month in the United States. We’ll look at the intentions of this “celebration” and what it entails.
The world’s largest conference on osteoporosis and bone health just concluded in Poland. We’ll take a look at what went on there, and the topics that were discussed.
Finally, you’ll learn about a new study that links fracture risk to past falls. We’ll take a look at why falls can predict fractures and how to avoid both.
The NOF’s National Osteoporosis Month
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), established in 1984, is a health organization that claims to be dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and broken bone through advocacy and research. They have designated May as National Osteoporosis Month to spread their message by garnering media attention.
You may have heard about their now yearly Jumping Jack Challenge, which they use as a social media-driven fundraiser for their organization, and as a way to spread awareness about the importance of weight-bearing exercise. The tagline for this year’s media blitz is “Break Free From Osteoporosis.”
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is celebrating May’s National Osteoporosis Month with a variety of activities and resources to help people of all ages understand the importance of good bone health. NOF’s call to action to Break Free from Osteoporosis is an awareness and educational initiative to help the public learn more about building bone strength and preventing fractures.
“Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones every year in the U.S. and causes 75,000 deaths, yet too many people neglect their bone health until after they suffer a debilitating fracture,” said Elizabeth Thompson, CEO, National Osteoporosis Foundation. “We’re encouraging everyone to get active, follow a bone-healthy diet and learn the facts about osteoporosis treatment to prevent fractures and the pain and suffering that results.”1
The Save Institute can always get behind spreading accurate information about the importance of bone health, but the National Osteoporosis Foundation and their messaging raise some red flags.
Its sponsors include corporations that manufacture and sell osteoporosis drugs. When the NOF recommends prescription drug treatment for osteoporosis (which they do, enthusiastically and without consideration of the evidence to the contrary) they do not mention that they are funded by the companies that sell those drugs. It even has a “corporate advisory panel” that includes most of the Big Pharma players.
This year, on the NOF’s National Osteoporosis Awareness Month page, they include a video meant to convince viewers that the risks of taking osteoporosis drugs are worth the reduction in fracture risk. (The Save Institute has always maintained that they are not.) The video cites no sources and uses no scientific evidence to back up the claims. If you scroll down to the very bottom of the page, you’ll discover that this particular video was created using a grant from Amgen.
Amgen is the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Prolia, a twice-yearly injectable alternative to oral bisphosphonates, but it’s very similar to bisphosphonates in its effect and its risks. While the NOF’s video itself doesn’t mention Prolia, it still functions as a commercial for Amgen’s product, masquerading as health advice from what is supposed to be an impartial non-profit organization. But when you follow the money, you find that the NOF is anything but impartial.
These major conflicts of interest, buried on an obscure corner of their website, should give any reader pause. Is May a month dedicated to improving the bone health of all Americans, or is it dedicated to increasing profits for Big Pharma? The NOF would have you believe that you can’t have the former without the latter, but, as Savers know by now, they’re wrong.
Osteoporosis Congress In Europe
Last month the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) held the 18th World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Krakow, Poland. Nearly 4,000 delegates attended the conference which featured lectures by leading experts in the bone field, panels, symposia, awards, and presentations of new research.
The topics included in this years symposia and presentations included global dietary intake of calcium, bone fragility in diabetes and breast cancer, sarcopenia and frailty, FRAX, bone microstructure, treatments, osteoarthritis management, inflammation and musculoskeletal ageing, microbiota and bone disease, obesity and fracture risk, among many other topics.
“We look forward to an outstanding Congress which will give delegates information about advances in patient care, insights into the latest clinical research, and excellent opportunities for international networking,” said Professor Jean-Yves Reginster, Congress co-chair and President of ESCEO.
He added, “The year-to-year increase in delegate numbers and submitted abstracts reflect the growing interest in musculoskeletal disorders, the second greatest cause of disability worldwide. Disorders such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and sarcopenia represent an enormous and rapidly growing human and socioeconomic burden. Given the urgent need for action to stem the tide of disability and early death due to these serious disorders, it is crucial that we, as practitioners and researchers, stay continually abreast of the latest advances in the field.”2
While this international conference does bring together many scientists and health care professionals, it also serves as a marketplace for manufacturers of drugs and medical devices to sell their products to those professionals. In fact, the WCO IOF-ESCEO’s website says exactly that on the page labeled sponsors: “Exhibiting at the WCO IOF-ESCEO provides unlimited opportunities to drive your sales, to increase your visibility and to interact with a highly targeted audience!”3
This information explains some of the more controversial topics covered at the event, such as FRAX, which has been disavowed by the World Health Organization as an effective method to predict fractures.
The recent World Osteoporosis Congress, much like the NOF’s National Osteoporosis Month, at first seems to be intended to improve bone health, but that goal is overshadowed by the Medical Establishment’s focus on treating conditions with prescription drugs.
New Study Links Past Falls To Future Fracture Risk
A recently-published study in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research has shown that an individual’s history of falls is a better predictor of their fracture risk than other predictors such as bone mineral density (BMD) or clinical other assessment tools.
“The findings were made in the large Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) cohort, comprising 4,365 men in United States, 1,823 in Sweden, and 1,669 in Hong Kong, with an average age ranging from 72.4 to 75.4 years, and average follow-up time from 8.7 to 10.8 years. Even after accounting for results from the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) and/or bone mineral density tests, past falls were associated with a 63%-71% increased risk of a new fracture occurring.
“Whilst the predictive value of falls for future fracture is well-established, these new findings — the result of a successful ongoing collaboration across UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the US — inform approaches to clinical fracture risk assessment, demonstrating that the fracture risk associated with prior falls is relevant over and above the risk identified by the current global standard approach of FRAX and bone mineral density,” said lead author Prof. Nicholas Harvey, of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, UK.”4
These findings further undermine Big Pharma’s arguments in favor of promoting their dangerous products as a magical panacea. Clearly, taking an osteoporosis drug doesn’t make someone less likely to fall, so it doesn’t have any impact on this newly-discovered fracture predictor.
The good news is that even if you’ve fallen in the past, you can prevent falls. Exercising to keep your muscles strong and attaining good fitness levels, eating a pH-balanced diet are all essential. Balance is particularly critical to avoid fractures, and fortunately the Save Institute provides guidance on how to improve your balance with specialized exercises.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
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And the best part is that you can build your bones while working toward preventing falls by following a regular routine of targeted exercise that improves balance and strength.
Till next time,
1 ”Break Free from Osteoporosis for May’s National Osteoporosis Month: What You Need to Know About Your Bone Health at Every Age.” National Osteoporosis Foundation. Press Release. April 27, 2018. Web: https://www.nof.org/news/break-free-from-osteoporosis-for-mays-national-osteoporosis-month-what-you-need-to-know-about-your-bone-health-at-every-age/
2 ”Focus on osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia at largest congress in the field” Phys.Org Science News Wire. Press Release. April 19th, 2018. Web: https://phys.org/wire-news/285560470/focus-on-osteoporosis-osteoarthritis-and-sarcopenia-at-largest-c.html
3 WCO-IOF-SCEO. Web Site. May 14, 2018. http://www.wco-iof-esceo.org/sponsors
4 Wiley. “Past falls can help predict an individual’s risk of bone fracture independent of other factors.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2018. Web: