In this month’s bulletin, we bring you the latest news on the legal battles between Merck and the unsuspecting victims who took the osteoporosis drug Fosamax.
Then we’ll have a look at two just-published studies. One uses a pioneering approach to measure the active and inactive forms of vitamin D in the bloodstream to unveil information about the micronutrient’s relationship to muscle mass.
The second study examines the benefits of exercise for pre and post-menopausal women. Spoiler alert: it’s never too late to start reaping the life-changing benefits of exercise.
1. Lawsuit Against Merck Revived
If you’ve been following along with the legal battles to hold pharmaceutical giant Merck accountable for the damage caused by its drug Fosamax, you’ll be glad to hear another chance for justice has emerged.
Merck was facing around 3,300 lawsuits filed by consumers who took Fosamax and suffered serious side-effects. The plaintiffs argued that the company did not provide sufficient warnings that Fosamax can cause atypical, spontaneous fractures.
Some of the cases got heard, but then in March 2014, a District Judge annulled all claims by plaintiffs who were injured prior to September 14th, 2010 saying the “claims were preempted.” This only left about 20 active cases. Fortunately, the fight to make Merck responsible for some of the harm they’ve done didn’t stop there.
“In the most recent order, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found that the lower court judge made a mistake in concluding their state law claims were pre-empted by federal law, based on actions of the FDA. The appeals court found that the plaintiffs have offered sufficient proof for a jury to conclude that the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) would have approved “a properly worded warning about the risk of thigh fractures – or at the very least, to conclude that the odds of FDA rejection were less than highly probable,” reports Reuters.
The appeals court judge has now allowed the plaintiffs to go ahead with the trial.”1
Fosamax was actually the first bisphosphonate on the market, available by prescription only since 1995. Over the next 13 years, the drug raked in more than three billions dollars. In 2008 the patent expired, and it is now also also prescribed in its generic form: alendronate sodium.
No matter the name or variety, bisphosphonates have been shown several times over to be ineffective at preventing fractures and to cause side effects than can severely reduce your quality of life and your health.
Many experience negative side-effects almost immediately, but seemingly the longer you take the drug, the more likely you are to suffer severe side effects, such as an atypical fracture. This is a fact the Save Institute has been citing for years. These drugs make your bones stiffer and bulkier, but not actually stronger, robbing them of the flexibility necessary to prevent fractures.
As old bone is retained for the mere sake of showing increased density, bones get in fact weaker and have microcracks that have been associated with fractures. Unfortunately, too many doctors prescribe these drugs, and they don’t educate their patients about the risks.
Now that this ruling has taken effect, let’s hope that those who suffered from the terrible effects of this drug will get their day in court, and a good outcome.
2. Vitamin D Increases Muscle Strength
It’s amazing how many different functions a single vitamin can perform in the body. It’s one of the reasons why looking at whole health is so important, because every little piece of the puzzle impacts every other piece in multiple, often surprising ways.
Vitamin D is no exception. In fact, it is something of a poster child for the complex multiple uses some natural compounds have. It’s both a vitamin and a hormone, and can be consumed in foods and supplements, in addition to being created in the skin through sun exposure.
Vitamin D’s important functions include the facilitation of calcium absorption in the gut, the maintenance of blood calcium levels, improving vision, managing cholesterol, and many other functions that I have written about here.
With the publication of a new study, we can now add to the list the optimization of muscle strength.
“116 healthy volunteers, aged between 20-74, were recruited to the trial. Participants had both active and inactive levels of vitamin D measured alongside physical characteristics including body fat and ‘lean mass', a measure of muscle bulk.
Women with a healthy body composition, and lower body fat, were less likely to have high levels of inactive vitamin D, a marker of vitamin D deficiency. This was echoed by the finding that levels of inactive vitamin D were higher in women with increased body fat. This would suggest a relationship between vitamin D and body composition.
However, the active form of vitamin D was not associated with body fat, but was associated with lean mass.
Individuals with an increased lean mass, and muscle bulk, had a higher level of active vitamin D in the bloodstream.”2
The relationship observed between each participant's active and inactive vitamin D in relation to body fat and lean mass have not previously been possible. The scientists who conducted this study did so with cutting edge techniques that allowed them to assess both forms of the vitamin in the bloodstream.
It’s worth noting here that the metabolically active form of vitamin D is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, also known as calcidiol or calcifediol. Cholecalciferol (D3) is converted in the liver and kidneys into the biologically active form. On the other hand, Vitamin D2 , also known as ergocalciferol, is the form of vitamin D synthesized by plants and yeasts, often prescribed in huge doses by doctors and used in food fortification, in spite of published data showing that “ergocalciferol should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification.”3
Muscle strength is crucial to bone formation, as per Wolff’s Law, and this is why exercise is such an important component of bone health. But just like with any growth process, you need to provide the building blocks.
The study shows that vitamin D, and specifically its active form, is a significant building block for the formation of muscle strength, and consequently, stronger bones.
At the Save Institute we recommend taking 2000 IU daily of oral vitamin D3, especially during the winter months when you’re not able to produce as much naturally by exposure to sunlight.
3. Confirmed By Science: It’s Never Too Late To Get Benefits From Exercise
It can be hard to change your habits. For many, incorporating exercise into their lifestyle is a big hurdle, and when something seems difficult, it can be tempting to rely on any available excuse to avoid it. If you’re under the impression that because of your age, starting an exercise regimen won’t be effective, then I’m happy to report that it’s not so.
A new study conducted by scientists in Copenhagen shows that women who are recently postmenopausal experience equal or greater benefits from exercise as premenopausal women.
“The participants were 36 middle-aged pre and postmenopausal women only a few years apart in age. After a 12-week training regimen of high intensity cycling, Professor Hellsten and her colleagues determined the effect of training on the women's muscles and blood vessels using a series of physiological tests. To look at molecular changes, they took tissue samples from thigh muscles.
Less invasive tests in larger and more diverse populations will be important in order to confirm these findings.
Elaborating on the findings, first author Michael Nyberg said,
‘The present study pinpoints a possible signaling pathway at the cellular level that may underlie the higher sensitivity to physical activity in recent postmenopausal women.”4
This study confirms that exercise fuels the regenerative biological processes to keep you strong and young. And this holds also true for bone health, and perhaps even more so, because exercise is so important for the formation of new bone.
The women in the study above underwent 12 weeks of intensive cycling, and that is certainly excellent for cardiovascular health and much more. It’s also important to practice targeted exercises to build bone and strengthen muscles.
The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System has been specifically developed by the Save Institute to build your bones in the most efficient way possible, with only three, 15 minute sessions a week.
The change that exercise can make in your life is backed by extensive research and studies like the one described above. Find out of how easy and sustainable Densercise™ is, and start building stronger, younger bones.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
1 Shobhit Seth. “Court Revives Claims Against Merck Osteoporosis Drug (MRK.)”
Investopedia. March 22, 2017. Web: https://www.investopedia.com/news/court-revives-claims-against-merck-osteoporosis-drug-mrk/
2 University of Birmingham. “Increased levels of active vitamin D can help to optimize muscle strength.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2017. Web: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215145953.htm
3 Houghton, Lisa A. and Vieth, Reinhold. “The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. October 2006. Vol. 84 no. 4. 694-697. Web. https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/4/694.full
4 The Physiological Society. “Never too late: Reaping the benefits of exercise in early postmenopause.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2017. Web: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170225102108.htm