Osteoporosis Protection without Hormone Therapy

Just a few years ago, hormone therapy was thought to be the best way to protect bone health during and after menopause. After menopause, your body no longer makes as much new bone as it did before — setting the stage for osteoporosis.

Because research has revealed health risks associated with long-term hormone therapy, other medications have begun to emerge as better options for treating and preventing postmenopausal bone loss and fractures.

The August issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource reviews medication options:

Bisphosphonates: This class of medications includes alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel). Both can preserve bone mass and moderately increase bone density in your spine and hips. A recent study showed that alendronate increased bone mineral density in the spine continuously over a 10-year period.

Raloxifene (Evista): This medication belongs to a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators. It mimics estrogen’s beneficial effects on bone density without some of the risks associated with estrogen. Studies have shown that after three years of use, raloxifene reduced the risk of spine injuries by 36 percent.

Calcitonin (Miacalcin): This drug works by slowing the breakdown of bone and helps keep bone density stable. It’s used as a nasal spray or by injection.

Teriparatide (Forteo): This is the first of a new category of medications called anabolic agents. Unlike other drugs that are used to prevent bone loss, teriparatide stimulates bone formation. Taken by daily injection, its long-term effectiveness and safety are still being studied.

Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 800-876-8633, extension 9PK1.

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