What Is Bone Loss (cont.)
Medications to Prevent Osteoporosis
Various drugs, vitamins, and minerals are used to prevent osteoporosis in
women. Except for calcium and vitamin D supplementation, drug therapy to prevent
osteoporosis in men is still investigational.
- Dietary phytoestrogens found in
soy products and legumes are not potent enough to justify their use as a
treatment for osteoporosis, but they may be useful in delaying or preventing
osteoporosis as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a calcium-rich diet
- Calcium and vitamin D are essential for reducing bone loss. In
order for other preventive medications to be effective, adequate calcium and
vitamin D blood levels are needed.
- Estrogen replacement therapy in
postmenopausal women slows bone loss and is proven to prevent osteoporosis.
However, hormone therapy is associated with certain medical risks. The decision
about hormone therapy is a very individual decision in which the patient and
doctor must take into account the inherent risks and benefits of the treatment
along with each woman's own medical history. Other effective preventive and
treatment options for osteoporosis exist, and more are being developed to avoid
increasing hormone-related risks.
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
include the drug raloxifene (Evista). SERMs preserve bone density but are not
associated with estrogen-related risk factors such as uterine cancer.
- Bisphosphonates are medications that slow bone loss by increasing bone formation
and decreasing bone turnover. Adequate calcium and vitamin D blood levels are
required for bisphosphonates to be effective. Bisphosphonates are used for
prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The drugs alendronate (Fosamax),
ibandronate (Boniva), and risedronate (Actonel) are examples of bisphosphonates.
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