FDA’s prescription for bone health and osteoporosis has been shown to make bones far more fragile in the long term, and may even cause jaw death and esophageal cancer.
Bisphosphonate drugs are used for treatment of osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly, occurring especially in post-menopausal women. The drugs, which are sold under the brand names Actonel, Atelvia, Boniva, and Reclast, have supposedly been shown to reduce the risk of breaking a hip by 40 to 50 percent and fracturing a vertebra by between 40 and 70 percent.
However, this FDA-approved therapy has become even more controversial now that it has been linked to atypical bone fractures after long-term use. The drugs have also been linked to deterioration of jawbone, jaw death, and potential esophageal cancer. An FDA advisory committee now wants the FDA to limit how long a patient may be on bisphosphonate therapy, but committee members cannot agree on an appropriate time limit.
As osteoporosis expert Lara Pizzorno explains, bisphosphonate drugs help prevent fractures in the short-term by suppressing osteoclasts, the cells that remove injured and damaged bone. In doing so, there is no space to replace the damaged bone with healthy bone tissue. Eventually unhealthy bone accumulates and becomes extremely fragile.
Bones continue to remodel throughout one’s life, so any therapy prescribed to maintain bone or prevent excessive bone loss must be good for lifetime use. Any treatment that cannot be used in the long term is a waste of time, money, and in the case of bisphosphonate therapy, dangerous as well. As Pizzorno told ANH-USA recently, “The only place bisphosphonates might be useful is in the very short term for cancer patients, and even then the risks may outweigh the benefits.”
In her excellent book Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis & Have Strong Bones for Life—Naturally (co-authored with our friend Jonathan V. Wright, MD), Pizzorno discusses natural integrative approaches to preventing osteoporosis and maintaining healthy bones that can be used over a lifetime. She examines the science behind proper nutrition, including vitamins and minerals (such as calcium, vitamins D, K, and B, particularly folate), exercise, and eating particular foods.