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Long-Term Oral Bisphosphonate Therapy and Fractures in Older Women: The Women's Health Initiative

Long-Term Oral Bisphosphonate Therapy and Fractures in Older Women: The Women's Health Initiative

Long-term use of osteoporosis drugs linked to INCREASED risk of fractures

Yet another study has appeared showing an increased risk of problems with bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis. Bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax and Boniva appear to show a slight reduction in fracture risk in osteoporotic patients in short-term use. However prior studies have shown an increased risk of spontaneous femur fractures requiring surgery and also osteonecrosis of the jaw when used for five years. Now a new study from the West Coast has also shown that the risk of fractures actually goes up with use over 10 years compared to use for two years.

On a risk-benefit basis, we feel that these drugs are usually ill-advised. They do not actually build bone mass but rather impede the breakdown of bone. This makes bone appear more dense on dexa scans but does not build new bone. And just because the bone is more dense on this test does not mean it is necessarily like healthier stronger bone. And with each passing year, more and more studies are showing the ill effects of these drugs in other ways. This study is notable however in showing that in addition to these other ill effects, even the core function of reducing fracture risk is actually reversed with long-term use.

And my wife, Marilyn D. Hatz DDS who is a TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) expert, recently had a patient referred to her with a horrible side effect of a similar drug that we will describe in a later post. We believe there are better ways to treat osteoporosis than bisphosphonates which we will describe in future posts.

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