You’ve probably seen the TV commercial with Sally Fields championing Boniva, a medication designed to maintain healthy and strong bones. However, what’s not conveyed in this and other advertisements for similar medications is that over the long term, these medications damage bones.
Boniva, like Fosamax is included in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates prevent the body from breaking down old bone, which is the body’s way of repairing and maintaining bone. Normally within the human body there are cells that regularly make new bone but also breakdown older bone that is weak. This is called bone remodeling and is a dynamic process that continues throughout one’s lifespan. The bisphosphonates interfere with this normal process which eventually results in new bone not being created as it should.
Research over the past few years is associating “atypical femoral fractures” with long-term use of bisphosphonate drugs. What this means is that many women who have been taking Fosamax for 4-8 years have been breaking their hips from routine activity and not from trauma. A study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center discovered that post-menopausal women taking a bisphosphonate drug initially experienced bone improvements but after 4 years of taking the drug, the improvements disappeared and then regressed. This trend is even more alarming for women on traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
Osteoporosis and osteopenia are conditions of weakened bones but as recent research has demonstrated, bisphonates are not the long term answer to healthy bones. Diet and weight bearing exercise continue to be two gold standards of natural treatment to maintain healthy bones. Let me know if you have questions or need additional information on healthy bones.