Bisphosphonates linked to Hip Fractures
Doctors have been prescribing Bisphosphonate-based medications as a preventative treatment for osteoporosis to post-menopausal women since the 1990s. Recent research however has proven that biphosphonate-based medications actually increase the risk of two types of atypical hip fractures in women at risk for osteoporosis.
Bisphosphonates act in the body to deactivate cells (called osteoclasts) that are used to break down old bone cells so they can be replaced by new cells. Doctors have long believed that bisphosphonates prevent fractures caused by brittleness and bone loss. However, there has been growing evidence that bisphosphonates can cause of other forms of fractures because they also inhibit the natural life cycle of bone cells. Because bisphosphonates prevent bone from being replaced naturally, some types of bone fissures will not heal.
Per Aspenberg and his colleagues conducted a national study on 12,777 women 55 years or older. Of the study subjects, 59 had femoral fractures that were diagnosed as fatigue fractures or “atypical” femoral fractures. The majority of those patients (78 %) had been taking bisphosphonates.
According to Professor Aspenberg: “There is an on-going international debate, deliberating the side effects of bisphosphonates. The results from this study will probably conclude the debate” Aspenberg is confident about the connection between bisphosphonates and atypical fractures: “The connection between the bisphosphonates and the fractures is so strong they we propose that a causal connection can be confirmed.”
The good news is that the risk of fatigue fractures diminishes significantly once a patient stops taking bisphosphonates. One year after stopping the medication, the risk of a fracture drops by 70 %.
Aspenberg recommends that bisphosphonates should only be used short term: “This may indicate that one should seldom administer bisphosphonates and that the medication should be concluded after several years’ treatment.”
Vitamin, Mineral Supplementation Said to be Safer
A University of Illinois study casts further doubt on bisphosphonates’ effectiveness; Dr. Karen Chapman-Novakofski, who conducted the study recommends: “For many people, prescription bone-building medicines should be a last resort”. Instead of bisphosphonates, Dr. Chapman-Novakofski suggests that increasing dietary calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D and reducing sodium intake. Several studies have suggested that a diet high in sodium has damaging effects on bone health. Dr. Chapman-Novakofski’s study shows that taking supplements and consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals reduces the possibility of hip fractures significantly.
Bone Benefits of Mineral Rich Alkaline Water
An earlier article on this blog quotes Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic who says that there is research pointing to a link between alkaline water and bone health. Studies on alkaline water have shown that waterborne alkaline minerals are 30% better absorbed than food based minerals.
There are other benefits to drinking alkaline water as well. Ionized alkaline water contains negatively charged ions which promote antioxidant activity. The negatively charged water is able to donate electrons and act as a free radical scavenger. Also when the water is ionized, it is more easily absorbed at the cellular level improving overall hydration. This increased absorption also facilitates detoxification which helps the body rid itself of all water soluble toxins. Mineral rich alkaline water may just be the best hope women have for maintaining long term bone health.
Schilcher, Jörg, Karl Michaëlsson, and Per Aspenberg. “Bisphosphonate Use and Atypical Fractures of the Femoral Shaft.” New England Journal of Medicine. 364.18 (2011): 1728 DOI. Web. 9 Jul. 2013. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1010650>.
Plawecki, Karen, and Karen Chapman-Novakofski. “Before You Start Bone-Building Meds, Try Dietary Calcium and Supplements.” . N.p.. Web. 9 Jul 2013. <http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmw/news/news20843.html>.