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Are Women Being Overtreated for Bone Loss?

  • Don’t smoke. Chemicals in cigarettes are toxic to bone cells.
  •  Eat your greens—and yellows and reds. Natural pigments called carotenoids in fruits and vegetables protect against bone loss.

Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation

Side Effects of Osteoporosis Drugs

Bisphophonates, the most commonly used, include alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Reclast).
Side effects:

  • Mild gastrointestinal problems (heartburn, acid reflux, irritation of the esophagus, nausea and vomiting) and more serious (ulcers and bleeding)
  • Severe muscle, joint or bone pain
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Breakdown of the jawbone
  • Atypical bone fractures
  • Increased rates of a serious heart rhythm abnormality

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), raloxifene (Evista)
Side effects:

  • Hot flashes
  • Leg cramps
  • Blood clots

, estrogen or estrogen plus progestin (Premarin, Prempro, Premphase)
Side effects:

  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Breast cancer

(Miacalcin, Fortical)
Side effect:

  • Nasal irritation when taken by nasal spray

Sources: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health

Nissa Simon writes about health issues and lives in New Haven, Conn.

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