Long Term Risks of Osteoporosis Drugs
For post-menopausal women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, pharmaceutical forms of treatment may be their main hope to reduce the symptoms and consequences associated with the condition. But recent research suggests that the risks of these drugs need more investigation and must be carefully balanced against the benefits.
What is Osteoporosis?Osteoporosis is a disease affecting the bones. The bone mineral density goes down, resulting in an increased risk of fractures. When fractures occur, they can result in severe disability, particularly those fractures of the hip.
Why are Menopausal Women at Risk?Although osteoporosis has a number of risk factors such as the use of steroid medications or having a small skeletal frame, a common thread in women is menopause. Oestrogen has a protective effect on the bones. Once oestrogen levels decline as occurs with menopause, this protective effect is gone.
Most women can expect some decrease in bone density. The idea, however, is that through good nutrition and exercise in a woman's younger years, she can build up her 'bone bank' to minimise skeletal losses during and after menopause.
Issues for Women Using Osteoporosis DrugsOnce a woman has received a diagnosis of osteoporosis, there is a good chance she will be prescribed one of the approved medications to treat the condition and prevent further thinning of the bones.
Recent research has suggested some issues that do need attention though. A class of drugs known as bisphosphonates shows an increased fracture risk. This occurs when the medication is used for a long period of time – namely, more than four years.
How a Drug Increases Fracture RiskWhile it may seem counterproductive for a physician to prescribe a drug meant to reduce fractures that can still increase fracture frisk, there is logic to the act. These drugs are known to help women prevent fractures. The drugs increase bone density over the course of several years.
Bones are not something that never changes – your body is constantly breaking down old bone and building new bone. What happens as the use continues is that the bone being put down is brittle. So while we have increased bone laid down, the quality of the bone is questionable. Over some time, these medications then leave a user susceptible to certain kinds of fractures. One such kind of fracture is a spiral femur one, which is the thigh bone.