The cost of osteoporosis in the U.S. is estimated at $22 billion per year.1 Bisphosphonates (such as Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, and Reclast) are commonly prescribed by physicians to treat osteoporosis or to prevent osteoporosis in individuals with osteopenia. Unfortunately, bisphosphonates may actually increase one’s risk of mid-femur fractures (the femur is your upper leg bone).2-11 Bone tissue undergoes a continuous cycle of breaking down old bone and rebuilding new stronger bone. Bisphosphonates increase bone mineral density in the short term by reducing bone breakdown and turnover, reducing bone loss but not building new bone. However, this is not the same as building natural, healthy bone with exercise. When old bone is not broken down to create new bone, the old bone becomes brittle and fractures easily.
Bisphosphonates have been linked with many other side effects, including esophagitis, esophageal cancer, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and atrial fibrillation. They can also negatively affect the musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal tract, and kidney function.11,14,15
Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis does not need to involve potentially dangerous drugs. Instead, osteoporosis should be prevented and treated through physical exercise and proper nutrition, which have been shown to be more effective than drugs and have no negative side effects.16-19