Tag Archives: bone density

How Long Can You Safely Take Bisphosphonate Medication for Osteoporosis?

How Long Can You Safely Take Bisphosphonate Medication for Osteoporosis?


“Bisphosphonates are the drugs most often prescribed to treat and prevent osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates help to preserve bone mass by slowing down bone resorption. Clinical studies of these drugs have focused on their effect on bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk. ”

But how long is it safew to use these drugs?

Read the the advice from Johns Hopkins Health Alerts>

Osteoporosis risks you may not think about

Risks: Loss of Bone Mass Linked to Contraceptive

A January 2010 New York Times article by Roni Caryn Rabin reports that loss of bone mass may be linked to a popular injected contraceptive.

“Almost half of all women who use a popular injected contraceptive [depot medroxyprogesterone acetate] lose a significant amount of bone mass within two years, and researchers now say the greatest risk is to smokers, women who don’t consume enough calcium and those who have never gone through a pregnancy.”

The study appeared in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 12, 2010, on page D6 of the New York edition.

Calcium and Heart Attacks

New Research

Last week, my students in my osteoporosis prevention class were all talking about the news that calcium supplements may cause heart attacks. So I promised them I’d research this and tell them what I found out. (There is a benefit to having been a librarian.)

I also found some recommendations from American Bone Health that seem to be reasonable guidelines to follow.

Here’s what I found

I read articles from several sources. (The list is below.)

Here are a couple of hightlights:

  • The study specifically excluded research on calcium administered with vitamin D. (Everyone I’ve talked to who is taking calcium supplements is also taking vitamin D – on the recommendation of their doctors.)

Comparison with other studies
“A body of evidence related to the current work comes from studies comparing coadministered calcium and vitamin D supplements with placebo, which were excluded from our meta-analysis. Recently, the Women’s Health Initiative reported that calcium and vitamin D had no effect on the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. The findings of that study might differ from ours for several reasons. The Women’s Health Initiative used low dose vitamin D supplements, and vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and vitamin D supplementation with decreased mortality.”

“In summary, randomised studies suggest that calcium supplements without coadministered vitamin D are associated with an increased incidence of myocardial infarction. The vascular effects of calcium supplements, especially without vitamin D, should be studied further.”

  • The real conclusions seem to me to be that 1) calcium supplements without associated vitamin D supplements may cause heart attacks and 2) doctors should be prescribing calcium supplements after determining if there really is a calcium deficit.  More is not better


The most reasonable recommendations I found came from American Bone Health.

“Before you take a daily calcium supplement, know how much calcium you are eating in your diet and DO NOT exceed your daily requirement.”

Read their recommendations at: http://www.americanbonehealth.org/images/stories/BONESENSE_on_Calcium_and_Your_Heart_Jul2010.pdf

Links to news stories

Link to the actual research

Here is the link to the actual article. I haven’t finished reading yet. But if anyone is interested – and actually reads it  – please share your conclusions.