Better Bones Lead To A Longer Life

Osteoporosis is an age-related condition that renders bone frailer and more prone to fractures.
While this condition is more common in women, it also affects many men too.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoporosis of the femur
neck or lumbar spine — the most widespread forms of osteoporosis — affect 24.5% of women
and 5.1% of men who are 65 years of age or over in the United States.
Following an initial fracture related to osteoporosis, doctors will usually recommend drugs to
support bone health. Some of the osteoporosis drugs that doctors most commonly prescribe are
nitrogen bisphosphonates and etidronate, a nonnitrogen bisphosphonate.
New investigations from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Darlinghurst, Australia,
have now revealed that the use of some of these drugs — which leads to lower bone loss rates —
correlates with significantly lower mortality risk.
However, according to the study authors, many people whose doctors have prescribed
osteoporosis drugs after an initial fragility fracture do not follow that prescription.
It’s a common misconception that osteoporosis affects only women, and many people choose to
not take recommended treatments," notes study co-author Prof. Jacqueline Center.
But osteoporotic fractures are not benign," she warns. Osteoporosis medication not only
decreases the risk of further fractures — but it appears that this same medication also decreases
mortality rates over the subsequent 15 years."
Prof. Center and colleagues report these findings in two study papers, one that they published in
Osteoporosis International in April this year, and one featured in the Journal of Bone and
Mineral Research this month.
In the first study, the researchers analyzed the data of 6,120 participants aged 50 years and over
who had enrolled in the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study?
This investigation revealed that study participants in the nitrogen bisphosphonates group —
alendronate and risedronate — had a 34% lower risk of premature death. However, when the
researchers looked at each nitrogen bisphosphonate separately, they saw that it was the only
alendronate that produced this effect, and not risedronate.
In the second study, the team conducted further analysis, using data from a cohort that had also
enrolled in the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. More specifically, they assessed the
data of 1,735 female participants aged 50 and over. In this case, they excluded the male
participants because very few of them met the study criteria.
This time, the research revealed that participants who took nitrogen bisphosphonates had a lower
rate of bone loss as well as a lower mortality risk. The authors estimate that a lower rate of

femoral neck bone loss, in particular, contributed to around 39% of the reduction in mortality
seen in this group.
The researchers hope that their recent findings may encourage individuals with osteoporosis to
take their drug prescriptions seriously and follow their doctors' advice.


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