Osteoporosis Worse than Rare Femur Fracture from Bone Density Drugs
Bone density drugs known as bisphosphonates can have side effects, one of which is a small increase in risk of femur fracture. A study shows that the risk of bone fracture associated with bone density drugs is very low, and that osteoporosis is worse.
Dennis Black, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco says a new systematic review of the side effect of bone density drugs (bisphosphonates) places the risk of femur fracture in context. A team of researchers investigated the incidence of bone fracture from bisphosphonates, finding them to be rare even among women taking the bone density drugs to prevent osteoporosis for ten years or more.
Bone density drugs, prescribed to prevent osteoporosis, work by slowing the rate of bone degradation. The drugs reduce fracture risk that can lead to disability and increase mortality rates especially among elders vulnerable to hip fracture and at risk for complications from surgery and inactivity.
Bisphosphonate (Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, and Reclast) use was studied among 14,195 women who also took part in three previous randomized trials. The women were age 65 to 85 and were followed for ten years.
"We found that fractures are very rare, less than 3 per 10,000 years of treatment, even in populations treated for a very long time," Black said. "The trade-off between the risk of this type of fracture and the overall benefit of these medications to osteoporotic patients is striking. The public needs to understand the rare incidence of atypical femoral fractures and the high risk of debilitating fractures in patients with osteoporosis if left untreated. These are important risks and benefits for patients to weigh with their doctors."
Women experiencing thigh pain and taking bone density drugs should report symptoms to their doctors. Bisphosphonates, used to prevent osteoporosis are recently linked to atypical fractures in the femur (thigh bone). The new research, systematically conducted, shows that the side effect of femur fracture from taking bone density drugs is rare, and that osteoporosis is worse.