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Other Osteoporosis Treatment - The Hidden Danger of Estrogen Therapy

Since most female osteoporosis sufferers become afflicted with the disease after going through menopause, orthodox medical researchers have long suspected that the natural decrease in the body’s estrogen levels at menopause may well be connected to osteoporosis.  Some medical scientists believe that estrogen actually holds back the progress of osteoclasts  (the cells that destroy old bone).  So, the thinking goes, when estrogen levels dips significantly at menopause, the osteoclasts are no longer held back as effectively.  At that point, they begin destroying bone faster than the osteoblasts can rebuild it.

None of this is conclusively proven, of course.  Although estrogen therapy does appear to help halt bone loss, the exact triggering mechanism behind the onset of osteoporosis is still unknown.  Recent studies show that estrogen may not be the culprit at all.  For example, a 14-year study reported on in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated there was no significant difference in the frequency of hip fractures between women who did use estrogen therapy, and those who did not.


 

The Untold Truth About the New Osteoporosis Drugs

The two new osteoporosis drugs recently approved by the FDA are alendronate (marked under the brand name FosamaxTM) and calcitonin (marked under the brand name Miacalcin TM).  We’ll take a brief look at both of them, including the claims being made for their efficacy and the potential drawbacks of their usage.

Alendronate

Alendronate is the first non-hormonal osteoporosis drug to be approved by the FDA for use in the United States.  It is sold by Merck and Company, Inc.  Researchers say it works by binding to the bone that has been targeted by bone-eating osteoclasts, thereby protecting it from being broken down.  They claim women using the drug in pharmaceutical company studies lost one-third less height, and suffered 50% fewer fractures.

Although it is not clear how, researchers also claim the drug can increase bone mass.  In one study, women using alendronate appeared to have their spines thickened by three percent a year during the course of a three year study.

The downside to the drug appears to be four-fold in nature:

1)  It happens that the drug must be used for a long period of time to gain maximum benefit – possibly for as long as 20 years on a daily basis, and perhaps for the remainder of the patient’s life in serious cases of the disease.

2) The side effects of long-term use of the drug are completely unknown – the drug was only tested for three years.  As Dr. Bruce  Ettinger, Senior Researcher at Kaiser Permanent Medical Program in Northern California has stated, We don’t have a clue as to its long-term safety.  I would be extremely cautious before giving it to a 50-year old who hasn’t started to experience fractures.

3) At least some of the drug stays in the bone forever, even if use of the drug is halted.  Again, potential long-term side effects of this drug in the human body are completely unknown.

4) The drug is expensive.

Calcitonin

Calcitonin is a hormonal drug that appears to slow down bone-eating osteoclasts.  It has been used successfully in the U.S. for more than a decade, but only in an injectable form that did not gain many adherents due to the necessity of taking painful shoots in the thigh on a daily basis. Now the drug is available in a more convenient nasal spray.  Researchers claim that although the injectable form has very few side effects, the spray form is only half as effective as Alendronate, resulting in bone mass gains of only one and a half percent per year, during the course of a two-year study.

The potential side-effects of the drug were not clearly spelled out in recent press releases and news articles, except to say that the spray could irritate the nose with long-term use, leading to pain, nose bleeds, or sinus inflammation.  Like Alendronate, Calcitonin is expensive.

The Real Problem With These Drugs

The real problem with these drugs is that neither of them comes anywhere near to addressing the actual cause of osteoporosis.  Instead of helping stop osteoporosis, they directly interfere with the body’s own natural process.  In other words, the underlying cause of the osteoporosis still exists.  But the drugs unnaturally repress the body’s responses to these underlying causes in an effort to stop the resulting bone loss.

From our point of view, it is this unnatural repression of the body’s natural response to systemic malfunction that makes the drugs so undesirable.  If the same problem could be treated and reversed naturally, without repressing the body’s responses to the underlying problem, then that should be the preferred form of treatment.

But for the big pharmaceutical companies there are no billion dollar profits to be made in unpatentable natural remedies – however effective they may be!  Therefore, instead of a safe, all-natural remedy, you get powerful hormones and drugs (which have known cancer risks and/or unknown long-term side effects) as the only alternative to the suffering from this dreaded disease.

In reality, osteoporosis is not caused by a lack of the drug Alendronate.  Nor is it caused by a lack of the hormonal drug Calcitonin.  Yet the orthodox medical establishment continues to put forth drugs like these as cures for the disease, when in reality they are only makeshift or stopgap measures that must be used forever – and potentially dangerous ones at that.

More Drugs on the Horizon

On the immediate horizon are a host of other highly suspect osteoporosis drugs , now awaiting approval by the FDA.  Among them are:

Slow Release Sodium Fluoride – this drug seems to slow down bone-eating osteoclasts and boost the efficiency of bone-building osteoblasts.  However, it is merely a slow-release version of the same formula that, in the 1980’s, caused peptic ulcers and built bone that was too brittle to withstand everyday rigors.  The manufactures claim the new slow release version avoids these side effects.  But many doctors have expressed skepticism and are asking for larger studies before they will even consider using the new formulation.  What’s more, if this drug is approved, patients will have to get a yearly blood fluoride check to make sure the drug stays below toxic levels in the body.

Calcitriol – this is another hormonal drug that seems to aid in the absorption of calcium and helps stimulate bone-building osteoblasts.  Unfortunately, researchers say that in high doses it can cause kidney stones, particularly if patients also take 800 mg. of calcium daily, or ingest that much in their diet.

 

 

 
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