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 and exercise.
- 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2015
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