Entries in Bone Loss (5)


Older Women Who Get Steroid Injections for Back Pain May be at Greater Risk for Bone Loss, Study Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A small study suggests that older women who get steroid injections in the spine to treat lower back pain may be at risk for bone loss in their hips, Health Day reports.

Although anti-inflammatory steroid medications used to treat diseases like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis are known to decrease a person's bone mass over time, it hasn't been clear whether steroid shots, which can be used to treat lower back pain, are connected to bone loss, Health Day says.

In this study, a team of researchers tracked bone-density changes in 28 women who chose steroid injections to treat their back pain and compared their findings with a control group of women who were about the same age. Researchers found that women in the steroid group lost six times more bone mass in the hip than the control group did, even though they said the absolute decrease was "slight," and the extent to which the treatment alone is to blame for bone loss is not clear, according to Health Day.

The findings were reported in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Spine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hormone Therapy Raises Women's Risk for Bone Loss

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- A class of medication used to prevent and treat breast cancer in post-menopausal women may boost the risk of bone loss, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Lancet Oncology.

The medications, called aromatase inhibitors, are used as part of hormone therapy to stop estrogen production in post-menopausal women. Research suggests the class of medications can stop tumor growth and prevent recurrence. More recent studies suggest it can reduce a patient's chance of ever getting the getting breast cancer.

But the new study found healthy post-menopausal women who took 25 mg of a type of aromatase inhibitor called exemestane daily for two years experienced bone loss in their wrists and ankles.

Bone density is typically measured in doctors' offices by a standard bone density test. But the women enrolled in the study, who were, on average, 60 years old, were periodically monitored using both a standard bone density test and a CT scan.

This study is the first to use computed tomography (CT) scans to take a detailed look at the exact type of bone loss experienced by women who take aromatase inhibitors. The CT scan offered a more detailed three-dimensional look at the bone structure compared to the standard bone density scan. This helped researchers examine the outer structure of the bone separately from the inner meshwork.

"We know the bone structure matters in terms of strength," said Dr. Angela Cheung, director of the osteoporosis program at University Health Network in Toronto and lead author of the study.

In this case, the detailed look allowed researchers to see exactly how much bone loss the women experienced.

Researchers followed 351 women with no history of osteoporosis for two years, and found an eight-percent decrease in thickness and area in the outer shell of the bone -- called the cortical bone among the women taking exemestane, also known by the brand name Aromasin -- compared to only a one-percent loss in the placebo group.

The majority of fractures in older women are due to cortical bone loss, according to Jane Cauley, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, who wrote an accompanying editorial published in Lancet Oncology. The findings from the CT study, she wrote, suggest that the negative side effects of aromatase inhibitors on bone health are "substantially underestimated."

The study also found that the medication worsened age-related bone loss even for those who took adequate supplements of vitamin D and calcium, which are prescribed to prevent bone loss.

Cheung said the benefit of CT scans uncovered in this study does not indicate that the scans should become a routine form of bone testing, due to high cost, and because CT exposes the patient to radiation.

While low bone mass offers clues to a woman's risk of bone fracture or even osteoporosis, this study was too small and did not follow the women long enough to see whether either condition developed. Researchers now plan to follow these study participants for another five years.

Cheung said that the findings should not turn women away from taking aromatase inhibitors like exemestane.

"For people thinking of prevention for breast cancer, they need to weigh the risk and benefits," said Cheung. "For some, it's just a mild degree of bone loss and for others maybe not."

Many women on aromatase inhibitors are also prescribed bone-strengthening medications like bisphosphonates, said Lillie Shockney, administrative director at Johns Hopkins Breast Clinical Programs. But recent findings suggest that even bisphosphonates can raise a woman's risk of femur fractures.

"It is important for the primary care doctor and the medical oncologist to discuss this before automatically doing so (prescribing bisphosphonates), as these bone-building agents are not side-effect free either," said Shockney.

Most importantly, the way to prevent bone loss is simple: women need to stay active.

"Brisk walking several times a day or hopping on a treadmill is an effective way to keep bones strong," said Shockney. "Bone density should be reassessed periodically while on hormonal therapy and beyond."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Researchers Say Soy Doesn't Alleviate Menopause Symptoms

Getty(MIAMI) -- A new study by the University of Miami says taking soy supplements to counter menopause symptoms or bone loss won't help women, according to a report published in MedPage Today.

Researchers found no difference in women who took soy products for two years in an effort to suppress symptoms of menopause or bone loss, despite previous studies suggesting the soy ingredient "phytoestrogens" offset adverse effects.

Dr. Silvina Levis, the lead researcher, says the two-year study showed "no significant differences" in adverse effects, including osteoporotic fractures, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study did, however, uncover a correlation between soy supplements and hot flashes.

There was also a slight spike in constipation among those who absorbed soy products versus those on placebos.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three-Foot Tall Crime Fighter Overcomes Genetic Disorder

Sgt. Troy Guidry(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- Being three-feet-two-inches tall doesn't stop Ryan Berger, 34, from taking on crime in Santa Ana, Califorinia.

Though he lives with a rare genetic disorder that leaves his bones brittle and requires him to use a motorized wheel chair, Berger has followed in his father's footsteps by joining local law enforcement.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder affecting the bones and connective tissue, prevents Berger from physically making arrests, but he does everything else an assistant detective might do -- from questioning suspects to testifying in court.

Berger hails from a "cop family."  His father John Berger is a retired detective for the Santa Ana Police Department and his brother, Mark Berger, currently works with the Anaheim PD.  Though he didn't originally intend to get into law enforcement (he studied computer science), Ryan Berger has been drawn into the family business.

"It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble," Berger jokes.

The Santa Ana PD made a few adjustments to office equipment to accommodate Berger, but otherwise, he does "everything most able-bodied people can do," says his supervisor Sgt. Troy Guidry.  "Mentally is where he's so tough -- his attitude with life.  That's why he fits in so well," Guidry adds.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, affects anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 Americans, though the majority of cases are not as severe as Berger's.  More than half the cases of are the mild type 1, which includes bone fragility, slightly shorter stature and joints that are prone to dislocating, according to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.  Many cases are so mild as to go undiagnosed.

For all types, the disease is characterized by a decrease in the body's production of collagen, which leads to varying levels of fragile bones, joint looseness, and other complications.

For those like Berger, who have type 3, symptoms are more severe and include a very small stature, incredibly fragile bones, and discoloration of the teeth.  Many patients with type 3 have a shortened life expectancy; either from lung problems or to disability-related accidents, says Dr. Jay Shapiro, director of the Bone and Osteogenesis Imperfecta Program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Teens Lose Bone Mass After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CINCINNATTI) -- Many adults who have gastric bypass surgery suffer bone loss in the years after their operation, and a new study shows the same thing happens to adolescents.

Researchers led by Dr. Anne-Marie Kaulfers, then a clinical fellow in endocrinology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, looked at 61 adolescents who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypasses.  A Roux-en-Y bypass involves making a small pouch from stomach tissue and attaching it directly to the small intestine, bypassing most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.

They found teens suffered 5.2 percent bone loss a year after surgery, which increased to 7.4 percent after two years.  However, obese teens already have an above-average amount of mineral mass in their bones, so even though they lost more than seven percent of that mass, it decreased to the same amount that normal-weight teenagers have.

The study stopped two years post-surgery, so the researchers don't know whether the decline continues beyond that point.  "However, if bone loss continues, even at a slow rate, these patients may have an increased risk of fractures later in life," the authors wrote.

While some specialists say the findings aren't new because other studies showed similar results in adults, others say the study draws attention to one of the big risks of gastric bypass surgery.

"This study is very important because we all know that there are consequences to rapid weight loss, and bone loss has been a concern in adults and now we know that it happens in adolescents," said Dr. James Geiger, surgical director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Comprehensive Weight Management Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Experts say it's important to learn more about bone loss in younger people who have a gastric bypass in order to determine why it happens, what the long-term consequences are and how possibly to reverse bone loss.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio