44 Million People in the US over the age of 50 have bone problems. 1.5 million Americans suffer fractures due to weak bones. Half of all women over 50 years old will have an osteoporosis related bone fracture. If you are over 50 years old you are at risk. Some other risk factors are:
o Older than 65
o Experienced a bone fracture after 50
o A close relative has osteoporosis or has broken a bone.
o Health is poor
o Started menopause before 45
o Not physically active
o Suffer from Hyperthyroidism
o Inflammatory Bowel Disease
o Multiple Sclerosis
o Rheumatoid Arthritis
So what are the drugs that are being prescribed for millions of people worldwide to treat Osteoporosis? Primarily there are three: Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel. There are others that are administered intravenously but let’s concentrate on the three most popular.
These drugs are classified as bisphosphonates which is an ingredient used for many years in fertilizers, soaps, laundry detergents and industrial lubricants. Fosamax, the best selling of the three bisphosphonates, is Merck’s second best selling drug. It has topped $4 billion in sales and millions of prescriptions are written every year. Incidentally, Consumers Affairs in 2007 reported that Merck set aside 48 million for a defense fund against lawsuits related to the side effects which for many people are very debilitating.
Actonel is the second most successful drugs in this category and coincidentally Proctor and Gamble who makes Actonel also makes laundry detergent and toothpaste.
Boniva is a taken once a month – I am sure you have seen the commercials with Sally Field.
The bisphosphonates in these drugs work by slowing the rate at which our bones lose their density. Our bones break down and then build back up, it their natural cycle of growth. When we are younger our bones build faster than they break down and of course as we age this process slows down. So these bisphosphonates appear to be doing the job – not really since slowing down bone loss also inhibits new bone growth. Old bones are more susceptible to fracture, the very condition they are trying to avoid. Dr. Susan M. Ott states “Many people believe that these drugs are ‘bone builders’, but the evidence shows they are actually bone hardeners”. She goes on to say “bones could become brittle with long-term accumulation.
Can bisphosphonates that are used in laundry detergent, fertilizers and industrial lubricants be safe for human consumption?
The most common side effects of the bisphosphonates are gastrointestinal. They include systems such as:
o Inflammation of the esophagus
o Ulceration of the esophagus
o Difficulty swallowing
The list goes on with a whole host of other symptoms such as dental problems, blood clotting problems, irritability, anemia, joint problems, muscle pain, vision loss. The absolute worse side effect is irreversible and is called Osteonecrosis which is the inability of the jaw to heal after dental surgery or tooth extraction. This condition is very painful and can cause ulcers, infection, exposed bone and sores.
The problem with all these side effects is that other drugs are then prescribed to deal with them. So then we start taking an acid reducer to deal with the gastrointestinal symptoms, an anti-inflammatory to deal with the inflammation symptoms, and a pain reliever to deal with our joint and muscle symptoms.
Is this really the best way to deal with an issue that until a view years ago wasn’t even classified as a disease? Mayo Clinic in 2006 stated that 37% of women older than 50 do not meet the true criteria of Osteoporosis and are wrongfully diagnosed. Why then, the rush to get millions of women taking drugs that are so dangerous.
Osteoporosis is not inevitable. Regardless of genetic risks, most of us can maintain strong, healthy, fracture-resistant bones throughout our lifetimes. While a certain amount of bone loss may occur with aging, developing dietary and lifestyle habits that lead to bone loss, exercising regularly, getting enough calcium and vitamin D and other supportive nutrients.
It is important to speak to your doctor about your bone health since there are so many factors involved. Hormones play a big part in this disease so bio-available hormone replacement may be an option for you.
Ultimately, the decision about what to do about your bone health rests with you. It is your responsibility to get educated and there are many, many resources available.
o Talk to your doctor and get prevention tips as well as treatment options.
o Thoroughly investigate the drugs, their claims of success, and their side effects.
o Learn about which food you should be eating that will increase your calcium intake.
o Learn about how much calcium and vitamin D you need
o Develop an exercise program that is right for you..