I’ve been ranting about this for years, and now doctors are finally admitting it. The very drugs that are currently prescribed to treat osteoporosis, are in fact making bones weaker and are now being blamed for an alarming increase in femur breaks among women who use them. (See the news story about this ). The femur for goodness sake! It’s the strongest bone in the body, and because of the side effects of this supposedly bone protective drug, it’s snapping like a matchstick.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: do not take bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax just because you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or get a low bone density test back. First of all, low bone density is not, in itself, a sentence for bone fracture. Low bone density is only one of at least 17 different risk factors for spontaneous fracture. By itself, it really doesn’t mean much. For instance, two other risk factors are inability to rise from a chair without using your arms, and use of benzodiazapene drugs (notice there’s no money to be made by addressing either of these issues.)
A quick look at how bone works will make it obvious why these drugs actually weaken bones, rather than give protection from fractures. Bone is constantly remodeling itself. There are certain cells (osteoclasts,) that remove old bone, and other cells (osteoblasts,) that build new bone in its place. This goes on continuously to keep bone strong and resilient. As we age, and particularly after menopause, there is a shift in the balance of bone metabolism in favor of osteoclast activity. This is one of the reasons we tend to lose bone mass as we get older. However this balance can be influenced in favor of building by putting stress on the bones, such as in weight bearing exercise. The bisphosphonate drugs work by inhibiting osteoclast activity–that’s the clean up function. So old bone doesn’t get removed. What happens then, is women on Fosamax get these great bone density tests, but are unaware that the quality of that bone is poor–in fact their bones are getting weaker and weaker as the old brittle bone piles up. In this situation, a monster bone like the femur can spontaneously snap just from stepping off the curb.
Building strong bones naturally is something anyone can do. It takes a multifaceted approach–one that includes proper whole foods nutrition along with weight bearing exercise. Beware of people who tell you just to take this or that miracle vitamin or mineral. Strong bones require a complex of nutrients that can only be found in whole foods. And one of the critical factors in such an approach is getting over the myth that saturated fat is bad for you, (you are probably hearing this from the same doctors who are prescribing Fosamax for your thinning bones,) because the minerals and co-factors necessary to get those minerals into the bone are all dependent on a diet rich in fat.
If you are concerned about osteoporosis, see a holistic health care practitioner who knows how to coach you in a bone strengthening regimen that will keep you healthy for life, and avoid these dangerous drugs.