When it comes to addressing osteoporosis or osteopenia, conventional medical practitioners often turn to bone-building medications such as Fosamax, Reclast, Forteo, Evenity, Tymols, or Prolia. However, it’s important to note that these drugs should generally be consider a last resort for most women dealing with bone health concerns, rather than the initial choice. This is particularly true for women who have not experienced fractures and whose bone loss is primarily a result of menopause.

While a small percentage of women may benefit from these medications as a first-line treatment, determining the right course of action can be challenging. So, how can you make an informed decision for yourself, your loved ones, or friends?

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that influence your best course of action after receiving a diagnosis related to your bone health. We’ll start by examining the arguments against relying on medications and delve into why a more holistic approach may be preferable.

A Medication-Heavy Healthcare System

The United States leads the world in the consumption of physician-prescribed medications by a significant margin. Studies indicate that the average woman over 65 is taking at least five prescription drugs. Unfortunately, conventional doctors often do not thoroughly discuss the potential risks and side effects associated with these prescriptions.

Additionally, many individuals find themselves on long-term medication regimens without sufficient research into the long-term consequences. Most prescription drugs, including those commonly used for bone health, were not extensively tested for extend use in humans before receiving approval.

This reliance on medications comes at a high cost, both financially and in terms of health outcomes. Prescription drugs, even when taken as directed, are responsible for a significant number of deaths in the United States each year, with millions experiencing serious adverse effects. Furthermore, the combined effects of multiple medications, such as fatigue, blood pressure problems, and compromised immune function, remain poorly understood.

While medications do offer benefits and save lives, it’s essential to assess the risk-to-benefit ratio for each specific drug. Overall, data does not support the notion that long-term use of multiple medications leads to improved health. In contrast, European doctors prescribe fewer drugs, yet their populations tend to exhibit better health outcomes in terms of longevity and overall well-being.

Defying Surgeon General Recommendations

Using bone drugs as the primary treatment for osteoporosis contradicts the recommendations of the U.S. Surgeon General. In the extensive report “Bone Health and Osteoporosis,” the U.S. Surgeon General established an “Osteoporosis Treatment Pyramid.” This pyramid places nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle interventions at the forefront of bone loss treatment, reserving bone drugs as a last resort after investigating the root causes of bone weakness.

It’s disconcerting that many doctors overlook these guidelines, preferring to jump straight to prescribing bone drugs without considering the foundational interventions outlined in the pyramid. However, the experts in the field recognize the effectiveness of exercise, a balanced alkaline diet, stress reduction, and the cultivation of emotional resilience in promoting better bone health. In fact, nutrition and weight-bearing exercise are universal recommendations in the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s treatment guidelines.

Factors Influencing Medication Prescription

As a society, we often believe that chemical solutions hold the key to better health. Prescription drugs are administered in approximately 73.9% of all physician office visits, with pharmaceutical preparations frequently chosen as the primary treatment option. These decisions are typically made during brief doctor visits, where time constraints limit in-depth discussions.

Physicians make medication determinations within a limited timeframe. On average, a doctor’s office visit covers just six topics in slightly over 15 minutes, with one topic typically dominating the conversation. This leaves minimal time for discussing bone health, exercise, and nutrition. Consequently, patients who have already experience a fracture may be promptly prescribe bisphosphonate drugs, one of the go-to options for osteoporosis.

By the time the prescription is written, the patient’s time with the physician has expired, leaving no room for thorough discussions regarding side effects, long-term benefits versus risks, or alternative approaches involving nutrition and lifestyle changes, which are well-established methods for reducing the risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Lack of Nutritional Training

A significant majority of physicians lack substantial training in nutrition, despite recognizing its importance. Mainstream conventional doctors, often referred to as “allopathic doctors,” are trained primarily in the use of drugs, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to address health symptoms. As a result, their knowledge of nutrition and protocols that support the body’s natural balance, bone strength, and wellness may be limited.

Confusion Surrounding Bone Density and Bone Weakness

Conventional medicine frequently oversimplifies the understanding of osteoporosis and its development, leading to confusion between bone density and bone weakness, two distinct concepts. While it may seem logical to assume that thinner bones are weaker, scientific studies have revealed that bone quality and structural flexibility play a more significant role in fracture risk than overall bone density.

In some conventional practices, thinner bone is equate with weaker bone, leading to the prescription of bone drugs without further assessment.

The Dubious Nature of “Osteopenia”

Decades ago, osteoporosis was diagnose when patients experienced unexplained fractures. This led to research on bone density as a potential indicator for diagnosing osteoporosis and developing preventative therapies. However, the correlation between bone density and fractures is weak at best, and equating the two is problematic.

Furthermore, the creation of the term “osteopenia” to classify individuals with lower-than-average bone density raised concerns. Many researchers argued against using osteopenia as a basis for treatment, as there was no evidence to suggest that it reliably led to osteoporosis or that increased bone density in osteopenic patients resulted in significant benefits to justify drug use.

Despite these concerns, individuals with lower bone density, as indicate by DEXA scans, are often prescribe bone drugs without additional assessments of bone strength and flexibility.

Quantity vs. Quality

It’s crucial to recognize that some bone drugs may increase bone quantity at the expense of bone quality. Treating symptoms with drugs does not address the underlying disease; instead, it conceals the problem. This approach can lead to significant, life-altering side effects, which are often downplay by healthcare professionals.

Additionally, long-term use of bisphosphonates can result in denser bones but with a higher occurrence of microscopic cracks that could develop into fractures under stress. Denosumab (Prolia) further interferes with immune factors, disrupting the natural process of bone breakdown and renewal, potentially causing spontaneous vertebral fractures in some users.

Profit-Driven Healthcare

Bone drugs represent a lucrative market, with the global osteoporosis drug market currently valued at over $14 billion and projected to exceed $23 billion by 2030. Bisphosphonates alone account for approximately $1.25 billion in annual prescriptions in the United States. The pursuit of profit has influenced the diagnosis of bone health, potentially boosting sales but not necessarily improving patient outcomes.

Regrettably, the profit motive has often overshadowed individual patient well-being within the U.S. healthcare system. This has led to a skewed research agenda, with clinical trials often guided more by marketing than clinical considerations. Meanwhile, cost-effective health-promoting activities, behavioral interventions, palliative care, and the use of older, proven, and safer medications are underutilized due to a focus on industry-driven marketing strategies.

Who Truly Needs Bone Medications?

The prevalence of prescription medications can be attribute to the incentives within our

healthcare system. To receive a different standard of care, it’s essential to take a proactive approach, ask questions, evaluate options, and educate yourself about your health, even on topics your doctor may not have the time to discuss in-depth.

Contrary to misconceptions, this perspective does not advocate against bone drugs altogether. Some individuals experience such severe bone loss or weakening that medication may be necessary to slow or halt the deterioration. These situations often involve individuals with ongoing health crises, such as cancer patients, those with Paget’s disease of the bone, individuals on long-term high-dose prednisone treatment, or cases where bone erosion is rapid. However, strong medications should complement efforts to support bone health through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and the incorporation of healthy fats foods.

I advocate that individuals facing potential bone health issues should ask a fundamental question: Do I truly need this medication to improve my bone health?