Best Fix for Osteoporosis
Reported April 28, 2006
(SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) — About 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis. The condition is characterized by low bone density, making people susceptible to fractures. But now doctors may be able to offer the most effective treatment yet.
Judi Sheridan wants to keep her body strong. She has osteoporosis, a condition that puts her at risk for broken bones. The drug Fosamax helped improve her bone density. “To me the real proof was about two years ago,” she says. “I fell down the stairs here at work — almost a full flight of stairs — on my hip. I had terrible bruises, but I didn’t break a singe bone.”
Now, a new study shows Fosamax is even more effective when taken with another drug. Lead scientist, Dennis Black, Ph.D., says that’s good news for patients at risk for fractures.
“Roughly half the people who can live independently before a hip fracture are not able to live independently after a hip fracture,” says Dr. Black, an epidemiology professor at University of California, San Francisco.
During a study, UCSF researchers gave postmenopausal women the bone-building parathyroid hormone (PTH) therapy for one year followed by a year on Fosamax.
“Using the two drugs in a sequential manner is clearly the optimal way to combine them,” Dr. Black tells Ivanhoe.
The study showed women who took the two drugs had about a 30-percent increase in a certain type of bone density. Those who only took PTH had a 14-percent increase and those who only took Fosamax had a 7-percent increase. The combination offered more improvements than any other drug regimen studied.
“That’s where the big payoff would come,” Dr. Black says. “If you have a fall, instead of fracturing your hip and ending up in the hospital and having to have a new hip put in from surgery, that you could avoid the whole thing.”
Sheridan hopes to do just that. “I expect to live a long and healthy life,” she says — a goal that this new research may help her accomplish.
Another study showed that reversing the order the drugs were taken in decreased their effectiveness. One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
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University of California, San Francisco