Treatment for Osteoporosis
Historically doctors have prescribed hormone replacement therapy to prevent the progression of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women . Findings from recent studies indicate the estrogen and progestin combination of hormones may actually increase the risks for other life-threatening diseases such as heart attacks and strokes . Additionally, women who take hormone replace therapies are at increased risk of developing blood clots . Instead of estrogen and progestin therapies, some researchers have turned to estrogen-related therapies to treat osteoporosis . While these therapies slow the progression of the disease, they also pose health risks to the patients.
Another treatment for osteoporosis is calcitonin. Calcitonin is a naturally occurring hormone that aids in calcium regulation and bone metabolism . The treatment has proven effective in increasing spinal density, slowing bone loss, and reducing the risk for fractures in women who are more than five years beyond menopause . The treatment is also effective in reducing the bone pain associated with the disease.
Researchers have high hopes for the experimental drug, strontium ranelate, as a treatment for osteoporosis. Study findings indicate strontium makes bones denser and reduces the risk for fractures in older women. Strontium has chemical similarities to calcium and demonstrates a natural attraction to bones. Although strontium was first discovered in the 1950s, its potential for treating osteoporosis was never fully investigated. In later years strontium was used as a treatment for bone pain.
An author contends studies confirm that adding ranelic acid to strontium contributed to bone growth and bone density in animals. Other studies showed the combination was effective in reducing fractures in humans. A study conducted between the years of 1996 and 1998 involved 1,442 postmenopausal women diagnosed with osteoporosis as study subjects. The average age of the women was 69. All of the women took calcium and vitamin D supplements, and half were treated with 2 grams of the strontium/ranelate combination while the other half were given a placebo. During the test period, 33 percent of the women taking the placebo suffered from bone fractures compared to 21 percent of the women taking strontium ranelate. Additionally, the women taking the placebo suffered from an average of 1.3 decreases in bone density while the women taking strontium ranelate experienced an average of 6.8 increases in bone density in the lower vertebrae. While the treatment is promising, An author notes that it is most useful in preventing vertebrae fractures.