Bone Drugs Proven to Cause Poor Bone Quality in Humans

Friday, March 19, 2010
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Two studies from the Special Surgery (HHS) and Columbia University Medical Center1 have confirmed the recent media attention on the extreme dangers to bone from the long-term use of bone drugs (bisphosphonates).  The researchers found that after four years of use bisphosphonates had a negative effect on bones causing declining structural integrity of bone.  This finding is very important because doctors expect patients to take these drugs for life.  ABC news recently highlighted a number of faithful Fosamax users who experienced abnormal fractures in their large femur bone from doing very little.

In the new study researchers at Columbia evaluated the bone structure of 111 postmenopausal women with primary osteoporosis, 61 of whom had been taking bisphosphonates for a minimum of four years and 50 controls taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.  This type of analysis of bone samples from humans has not been done before.  It confirms earlier animal experiments with these drugs that show the higher the dose the more deleterious the adverse effect on bone integrity.

“Recent research suggests that suppressed bone remodeling from long-term bisphosphonate use might result in brittle bone that is prone to atypical fractures,” said lead author Brian Gladnick.  While there is recent research these basic facts have been known for a long time.  Bone drugs interfere with normal bone regeneration, leaving older bone in place.  I have pointed out for many years that this cannot possibly help bone quality as someone grows older.  Yet, doctors continue to use these drugs on their unsuspecting patients even though the science has been perfectly clear for over a decade.

In a second unrelated prospective pilot study, conducted at HSS and funded in part by the NIH, researchers evaluated the bone composition of 21 post-menopausal women who were treated for femoral fractures. Of these, 12 patients had a history of bisphosphonate treatment for an average of 8.5 years, while nine had not had bisphosphonate treatment.

Samples of bone were removed from each patient’s femur during surgical placement of a femoral nail. Both micro-architecture and material properties of the bone were analyzed.

The study found that, although there were no differences in bone micro-architecture between groups, the material properties of bone in bisphosphonate-treated patients displayed reduced bone tissue heterogeneity, which may be associated with reduced strength and potentially may contribute to the presentation of atypical fractures.

“Patients who had been treated with bisphosphonates showed a reduction in tissue heterogeneity, specifically with mineral content and crystal size compared with the control group,” Gladnick said.

“This tells us that there may be some measurable differences in bone quality parameters in patients on long-term bisphosphonate therapy, which might contribute to the development of atypical fractures.”

Bone drugs are poisons to bone.  Only the most inept system of medicine could dream of giving them to relatively healthy people for long-term use in the name of prevention.  This is a major betrayal of the public trust.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Bone Drugs and Bone Quality - Two Human Studies  2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).  Brian Gladnick, et al.

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