Bone Drug Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

SATURDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) — A drug used to treat osteoporosis lowered the risk of breast cancer recurrence in premenopausal women with early breast cancer.

The Austrian researchers also found that women who took Zometa (zoledronic acid) had a 30 percent lower risk of the cancer spreading to the bone, with other benefits as well.

“We found not only an effect on bone metastases, which one might have anticipated, but also on local regional recurrence, distant bone metastases and contralateral breast cancer,” said study author Dr. Michael Gnant, a professor of surgery at the Medical University of Vienna. “The indication is that zoledronic acid exerts a benefit through a variety of mechanisms which, all together, create a tumor-hostile environment…”

Gnant, who presented his findings this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, spoke at a Saturday news conference. The trial was partially supported by Novartis, which makes Zometa.

Earlier studies had indicated that Zometa can reduce bone loss occurring as a result of cancer treatment, and that it might also have an effect on the cancer itself.

For this trial, researchers randomized 1,803 patients to one of four arms: hormone therapies tamoxifen or Arimidex (anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor), with or without Zometa.

Tamoxifen stops estrogen from reaching cancer cells while Arimidex interferes with actual production of estrogen. The hormone estrogen fuels breast cancer cells in estrogen-receptor positive tumors.

All patients were undergoing drug-induced ovarian suppression (to stop production of estrogen), had had surgery to remove the primary tumor, and had seen the cancer spread to 10 or fewer lymph nodes. Treatment lasted three years.

After a median follow-up of five years, either hormone therapy plus Zometa reduced the risk of relapse by 36 percent compared with hormone therapy alone. There were no unanticipated side effects, and the drugs were generally well-tolerated.

“The overall outcome of patients in this trial was excellent,” Gnant said. “This is reassuring that patients with endocrine [hormone]-response disease, even in premenopause, can be safely treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. The benefit was seen in and outside the bone.”

Although about 5 percent of participants had had chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor, none received later chemo. In Europe, breast cancer patients are commonly treated with endocrine therapy alone,” said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, vice chairwoman of medical oncology at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. In the United States, some, but not all, women in this group are treated without chemotherapy.

“This is not a trial about hormones instead of chemo. It’s about Zometa,” Mortimer said. “We know that this drug improves bone health, but there is also some evidence that it may actually have an effect on cancer cells, and the fact that this was seen in this population is very exciting.”

“This is going to open up a new opportunity for patients, and also for further research,” said Dr. Edith Perez, chairwoman of the breast cancer clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. “It has some limitations in that it was done only in premenopausal women, but it is consistent with other studies that have been reported with other drugs in that same class.”

A national study is now looking at both pre- and postmenopausal women and Zometa, Perez added.

More information

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has more information on breast cancer.

SOURCES: Joanne Mortimer, M.D., vice chairwoman, medical oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; Edith Perez, M.D., chairwoman, breast cancer clinic, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.; May 31, 2008, news conference with Michael Gnant, M.D., professor, surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria; May 31, 2008, presentation, American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, Chicago

By Amanda GardnerHealthDay Reporter

Last Updated: June 02, 2008

Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Are Too Many People Taking Heartburn Drugs?


By Amanda Gardner

MONDAY, May 10, 2010 ( — Too many people in the U.S. may be taking stomach-acid-suppressing drugs such as Nexium and Prevacid, new research suggests. The drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, help those with serious stomach and digestive problems, but the risks may outweigh the benefits for people with less serious conditions, experts say.

Proton pump inhibitors can have rare but serious side effects, including an increased risk of bacterial infection and bone fracture, according to several new studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Proton pump inhibitors are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. In 2009, they were the third-largest class of drug in the country with $13.6 billion in sales, representing more than 110 million prescriptions, according to IMS Health, a health-care market research firm.

Nexium and Prevacid (which is also available as a generic drug, lansoprazole) are the two most popular proton pump inhibitors, according to the most recent government data. Other drugs in the class include Prilosec, Zegerid, Protonix, and Aciphex.

“These medications definitely have benefits for a vast number of patients, but they also carry some really meaningful risks of diseases that can be catastrophic,” says Michael Howell, MD, the lead author of one of the studies and the director of critical-care quality at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Every doctor should look at every patient and give them the lowest level of gastric acid suppression that they think is safe. For many patients, that would be none.”

Related links:

Surprising Heartburn Triggers

Foods That Fight Heartburn

7 Daily Habits That Can Halt Heartburn

Two of the new studies found that proton pump inhibitors are associated with an increased risk of infection from the bacterium Clostridium difficile, a hard-to-treat intestinal infection that can occur in people taking antibiotics. C. difficile typically results in severe diarrhea but can lead to removal of the colon or even death in extreme cases.

C. difficile can be picked up in hospitals, but stomach acid seems to protect against the bacteria. Taking acid-suppressing drugs may allow the bacteria to gain a foothold, which can result in infection. C. difficile infection “is an awful disease, and we felt we were seeing more of it,” says Dr. Howell.

In one of the studies, Dr. Howell and his colleagues examined data from more than 100,000 patients hospitalized for conditions ranging from cancer to dehydration. People who took a proton pump inhibitor once a day had a 74% increased risk of acquiring a C. difficile infection in the hospital, the researchers found, while people who took the drugs more frequently were at more than twice the risk of infection.

The overall risk was small, however. The rate of infection was 0.9% and 1.4% in those taking the drugs daily and more than once a day, respectively, compared to 0.3% in individuals who didn’t receive any acid-suppression therapy.

In another study, conducted by a separate research team, patients who were already being treated for C. difficile infections and took a proton pump inhibitor were 42% more likely to see the infection return compared to similar patients who didn’t take the drugs.

“There are benefits to using PPIs, but as we move forward I think we need to really look at the indications, given that there are benefits but also risks for each individual patient,” says Amy Linsky, MD, lead author of that study and a fellow in internal medicine at Boston Medical Center.

Next page: Many prescriptions unnecessary?

The studies are part of a special theme issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the first in a new series examining the downside of overusing medical care.

Mitchell Katz, MD, the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health and author of an editorial accompanying the studies, estimates that 30% to 40% of the people who take proton pump inhibitors need them for health problems such as ulcers and Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged by excess stomach acid.

But the remaining 60% to 70%—who take the drugs for more common conditions such as indigestion and heartburn—probably don’t need them or should try lifestyle changes before resorting to medication, he adds.

“As a culture, we tend to want a pill to deal with our problems, when a lot of people could reduce their heartburn by eating smaller meals, drinking less alcohol, or not smoking,” Dr. Katz says. “Clearly there are people who benefit. But when 60% to 70% of people don’t need to be taking it, that’s a huge problem.”

Drug manufacturers (including AstraZeneca, the maker of Nexium) could not be reached for comment.

According to Dr. Katz, the “risk-benefit ratio” of proton pump inhibitors has shifted in recent years. “When [proton pump inhibitors] first came out, people felt they had no side effects,” he says. “Now you’re talking about increased fractures, increased C. difficile infection, increased rates of pneumonia. The balance has changed.”

Indeed, another study in the journal found that proton pump inhibitors increased the risk of certain bone fractures. Researchers analyzed data on more than 161,000 postmenopausal women from around the country and found that taking proton pump inhibitors increased the risk of spine fractures by 47% and forearm and wrist fractures by about 25%.

It’s not clear why the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors might lead to more broken bones. In the study, PPI use did not appear to affect bone mineral density.

According to the researchers, suppressing stomach acid may interfere with the ability of the intestine to absorb calcium, a mineral critical to keeping bones strong. Women in their postmenopausal years are often urged to take calcium supplements to counter the inevitable effects of aging on bones, but in the study, calcium supplements didn’t seem to have an effect on the number of fractures.

Taken together, these studies suggest that proton pump inhibitors are overprescribed, Dr. Katz says.

And when they are prescribed, the doses may be too high. Yet another study, a meta-analysis of seven clinical trials involving about 1,150 patients with bleeding ulcers, found that higher doses of proton pump inhibitors did not reduce the risk of additional bleeding, need for surgery, or death more effectively than lower doses did.

Proton pump inhibitors “reinforce the idea that the solution to behavioral health issues is to take a pill, and that’s just not how we’re going to get healthier,” says Dr. Katz. “Consumers need to ask their doctors, ‘Why am I taking this? Do I still need this? Do I have an alternative?’”

Scientists Find Way to Heal Broken Bones Faster

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) — Stanford researchers have found a way to significantly speed up the healing of broken bones in mice, a feat which, if replicated in humans, could mean people with fractures would be free of their casts a lot sooner.

“This has huge implications,” said Dr. Victor Khabie, co-director of the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. “Broken bones is a big problem, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The technique could help in fusing bones as well, and many other surgeries that rely on bone growth and bone healing to succeed, he added.

“A lot of the surgeries we do rely on bone growth and bone healing, and a lot of the failures of surgery have to do with the fact that the bone never heals or the fusion never [takes],” Khabie explained.

And this might have applications beyond bones.

“It isn’t limited to bone injuries,” said Dr. Jill Helms, senior author of the study published in the April 28 issue of Science Translational Medicine. “There’s a lot of interest in the role that [the protein used in these experiments] plays in tissue repair and tissue regeneration.”

That also includes blood, neural and cardiac cells, added Helms, who is a professor of surgery and of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The research borrowed a chapter from the lives of animals that can regenerate on their own, such as zebrafish and flat worms.

Scientists already knew that this capability was partly due to a class of proteins called Wnt proteins.

Although mammals don’t have the same innate ability to regenerate, the researchers speculated that, with a little help from Wnt proteins, maybe they could.

The researchers actually conducted two experiments, both testing the idea that tissues might heal faster if the Wnt signal was ramped up.

The first used a genetic approach, involving mice that had been genetically engineered to respond better to a Wnt signal, then administering purified Wnt via fat particles known as liposomes.

The second strategy involved raising levels of the Wnt protein in normal mice. Both groups of mice had sustained bone injuries.

“Both experiments showed us the same thing, that when Wnt signals were prolonged in an injury site then healing was much more robust,” Helms reported. “When we delivered this form of the protein in a little lipid [fat] particle to an injury site, we accelerated the healing quite dramatically.”

In fact, within the first three days, those mice had 3.5 times more new bone than the mice in the other groups, according to background information about the study.

Helms and her colleagues believe Wnt causes bone stem cells to divide more and turn into bone-forming cells much sooner.

J. Edward Puzas, a professor of orthopedics and senior associate dean for basic research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, added that the idea might also benefit people who sustain potentially life-threatening fractures as a result of osteoporosis.

In separate ongoing studies, Puzas is finding that the osteoporosis drug Forteo is also useful in healing bones.

The Stanford group is now expanding its work to speed tissue regeneration after skin wounds, heart attacks and stroke.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on bone fractures.

By Amanda GardnerHealthDay Reporter

SOURCES: Jill Helms, Ph.D., DDS, professor, surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.; Victor Khabie, co-director, Orthopedic and Spine Institute, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco, N.Y.; J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D., professor, orthopedics, and senior associate dean, basic research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.; April 28, 2010, Science Translational Medicine

Last Updated: April 28, 2010

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Related Links:Osteoporosis – Topic OverviewEating Smart for Your Whole BodyOsteoporosis – Topic OverviewWhy Your Back Hurts: The Surprising Causes of Low Back Pain – Chronic Pain

FDA Approves Injectable Osteoporosis Drug


By Denise Mann

Primary-care doctors now have a new—and potentially more convenient—tool to fight the bone disease osteoporosis.

On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug, Prolia (denosumab), to promote bone strength and prevent fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who are at high risk.

Women at high risk for fractures include those who have already suffered an osteoporosis-related fracture or who haven’t had success with other osteoporosis treatments. Roughly half of all women over age 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Prolia, the first osteoporosis drug of its kind, works by blocking a type of cell that breaks down bone. Unlike most osteoporosis drugs, which come in a pill or are delivered through a skin patch, Prolia is injected by a doctor every six months.

Related links:

11 Foods for Healthy Bones

How to Prevent Falls at Home

10 Healthy Calcium-Packed Recipes

“It’s always wonderful for clinicians and patients to have more options,” says Ethel Siris, MD, the director of the Osteoporosis Center at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York. “It’s a very potent agent and it is pretty clear that the reduction in fracture risk is quite robust.”

Dr. Siris was one of the researchers on a key study of nearly 8,000 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis that served as the basis for the FDA’s approval.

During the three-year study—which was funded by the drug’s manufacturer, Amgen—the women who took Prolia were less likely than a placebo group to experience spine, hip, and other bone fractures. Roughly 2% of the women in the Prolia group suffered a spine fracture, for instance, compared to about 7% in the placebo group. (Dr. Siris, the past president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, has served on a paid advisory board for Amgen.)

Prolia isn’t the first injectable osteoporosis drug. Two bisphosphonate medications, Reclast and Boniva, are delivered intravenously in a doctor’s office. Two other drugs, Forteo and Miacalcin, require self-injections every day and every other day, respectively.

Prolia is a new type of injectable drug, however. It’s the first biologic medication to be approved for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Biologics, which are genetically engineered versions of human proteins (rather than synthetic chemicals), are also used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Next page: A more convenient option?

Since there are no pills to remember to take, Prolia will help ensure that osteoporosis patients get their medication, and the new drug may prove easier to use than other injectable options, says Dr. Siris. Reclast, for instance, requires doctors to have an infusion chair in their office and requires a test for kidney problems before each dose. Neither of those is necessary with Prolia.

“The idea that I can, at the end of a visit, pull out a syringe, swab some alcohol on a patients’ deltoid muscle, and do it myself without a nurse is attractive to me,” she says.

Prolia will also be the first biologic sold directly to primary care physicians (other than vaccines).

“The other biologic agents used today in medicine are prescribed by specialists such as rheumatologists, endocrinologists, hematologists, and oncologists,” says Nancy Lane, MD, the director of the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of California, Davis. “But for the most part [postmenopausal osteoporosis] is treated by primary care physicians. So this will be an injection in the physician’s office—like a flu shot.”

It is not clear whether Prolia is stronger or more effective than existing osteoporosis drugs, Dr. Lane says.

In the clinical trials submitted to the FDA, the most commonly reported side effects were various types of pain (including back pain), high cholesterol levels, and urinary bladder infections. Rare but more serious side effects included decreased blood calcium levels, infections, the skin infection cellulitis, and eczema. Prolia may also contribute to a severe bone disease (osteonecrosis) that affects the jaw, the FDA noted.

The bone-weakening cells targeted by Prolia also play a role in immunity, so the drug “has the potential to affect multiple layers of the immune system,” according to the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“It is also not known whether it will be safe in patients who are taking other biologic agents, like those with rheumatoid arthritis,” says Dr. Lane.

The FDA will require patients who are considering Prolia to receive a guide that explains the risks of the drug.

For Older Women, Year Following Hip Fracture Can Be Especially Deadly

Getty Images

By Amanda MacMillan

MONDAY, September 26, 2011 ( — Women age 65 and older who fracture a hip are much more likely to die from any cause during the following year than they would be if they had avoided injury, a new study suggests.

The increased risk of death associated with hip fractures was especially dramatic among younger women. In the 65- to 69-year-old age group, the odds of death were five times higher for women in a post-fracture year than they were for non-injured women of the same age, the study found.

Many of the 300,000 hip fractures that occur each year in the United States happen in postmenopausal women with the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, typically after a fall or other accident. Researchers have already established that these fractures increase the risk of death, but they haven’t been able to rule out the possibility that women who fracture a hip are already at greater risk before their injury.

The new study, which carefully compared age-matched women with and without fractures, is the first to suggest a possible cause-and-effect relationship between hip fracture and death, says lead author Erin LeBlanc, MD, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, a large nonprofit health plan in Portland, Ore.

Related links:

17 Ways to Fight Osteoporosis

14 Surprising Facts About Healthy Bones

10 Ways to Prevent Falls at Home

“Before we might have assumed that sicker women are just more likely to get hip fractures,” she says. “But now we know that there is something about the hip fracture itself, and not an underlying condition, that is bringing on this increased risk of death.”

Dr. LeBlanc and her colleagues, whose findings appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked women in four states across the country between 1986 and 2005, as part of a larger study funded by the National Institutes of Health. From this pool of study participants, the researchers matched each of the 1,116 women who’d had hip fractures with four women of the same age who had not.

Overall, women who suffered a hip fracture had twice the odds of dying within one year of their injury than did their counterparts in the control group during the same year. Seventeen percent of the women who experienced a fracture died during the year, versus 8% in the control group. (In addition to matching the women by age, the researchers took into account body mass index, medical history, and several other risk factors for hip fracture.)

The top three causes of death—heart disease, stroke, and sepsis—were the same for both the fracture and control groups. But more than half of the deaths in the fracture group occurred within three months of the injury, and nearly three-quarters occurred within six months; this suggests that something about the surgery, hospital time, immobility, or rehabilitation required after a hip fracture makes women more vulnerable, says LeBlanc.

Next page: Prevention is key

In an effort to separate out the effect of hip fractures from the underlying death risk associated with preexisting health problems, the researchers performed a more detailed analysis in women age 80 and up, a group that is generally sicker and more likely to die.

Hip fracture did not measurably increase the one-year odds of death in this age group as a whole, but it nearly tripled the odds among the subset of women who considered themselves to be in good or excellent health. The fact that hip fracture was linked to an increased risk of death only when illness was removed from the picture provides more evidence that fracture can be a cause of death, the researchers say.

Fractures appeared to be most dangerous in the youngest segment of study participants: For women 65 to 69, hip fracture quintupled the odds of death within one year. This was also the only age group in which the odds of death remained higher in the fracture group after the one-year mark.

The findings in these relatively young women should be a wake-up call to physicians and patients alike, says Silvina Levis, MD, director of the osteoporosis center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Many people assume that this increased mortality mostly applies to the very old,” says Levis, who was not involved in the study. “But having seen this result, I think younger women are the ones who should be very much aware and should talk to their doctors about ways of assessing risk.”

Women should have a bone-density test at age 65 (or younger if they have other osteoporosis risk factors), and those with low bone mass or osteoporosis may want to consider taking medications to reduce their risk of fractures, Levis says.

Dr. LeBlanc says it’s important for all postmenopausal women to get enough bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D in their diet, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake, and assess their homes for hazards that could cause slips and falls. “Thinning of the bones is silent,” she says. “It doesn’t hurt, and if you’re not proactive you might not know you have it until you break something.”

These steps are especially important for a woman who has already had a fracture, Dr. LeBlanc adds, since she is at high risk for a second one.

Vitamin D Lowers Bone

Getty Images

By Benjamin Plackett

WEDNESDAY, July 4, 2012 ( — If you’re an older person wondering whether to take a vitamin D supplement to keep your bones healthy, it’s understandable if you—and even your doctor—are at a loss.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but the research on supplements has been inconsistent. Some studies have concluded that vitamin D supplements can lower the risk of bone fractures, while others suggest the pills provide little to no benefit.

The latest study on the topic, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, may help clear up some of the confusion. The study, a re-analysis of data from 11 clinical trials comprising more than 31,000 people age 65 and older, found that vitamin D supplements—which are often combined with calcium supplements—are associated with a lower risk of bone fracture only when taken at high doses.

Overall, 4% of the study participants fractured their hip during the studies, and 12% fractured a bone elsewhere in their body (not including vertebrae).

Taking less than about 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, with or without calcium, had no effect on bone-fracture risk when compared with taking a placebo or a calcium supplement alone. Taking 800 IU or more, by contrast, decreased the risk of hip fracture by 30% and the risk of other bone fractures by 14%.

Related links:

How to Fight Osteoporosis

12 Ways to Get Your Daily Vitamin D

11 Foods for Healthy Bones

“A 30% reduction in hip fracture with an inexpensive and safe intervention such as vitamin D has enormous public health implications,” says lead author Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, M.D., director of the Center on Aging and Mobility at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland.

The new findings go a long way toward explaining why past studies on vitamin D and fracture risk have produced conflicting results, says Robert P. Heaney, M.D., an osteoporosis researcher and professor of endocrinology at Creighton University, in Omaha, Neb.

“All of the problems with previous studies come from a very modest dose of vitamin D,” says Heaney, who wrote an editorial that accompanies the study. “If you don’t give [study participants] enough of the vitamin D, then you won’t see an effect.”

Should people over age 65 start taking at least 800 IU of vitamin D each day? Not necessarily. Although Bischoff-Ferrari and her colleagues suggest a daily supplement may be beneficial, other groups have stopped short of making the same recommendation.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), an influential nonprofit organization, recommends that people in their 70s or older consume at least 800 IU of vitamin D per day. But that vitamin D can come from fortified foods—not to mention sunlight, which naturally spurs the body to produce the vitamin.

And in June, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of independent experts that advises the federal government on preventive care, issued draft guidelines saying there is too little evidence to recommend vitamin D supplements for the prevention of bone fractures.

To complicate matters further, the dose needed to promote bone health appears to vary from person to person depending on his or her baseline vitamin D levels, Heaney says.

Bischoff-Ferrari says her team’s analysis—”the best evidence we have today,” she says—may merit a revision to the USPSTF recommendations, which have yet to be finalized and are open to public comment through July 12.

“I do think that our results can support a change in these recommendations for seniors,” she says.

How Do Broken Bones Heal?

Adults are held up by a skeleton composed of 206 bones that protect the body’s vital organs. Though it’s a sturdy frame, it’s vulnerable to problems—think issues like like osteoporosis and stress fractures, says Chad Deal, MD, director of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Health at the Cleveland Clinic.

RELATED: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Bones

Bones are flexible enough to give a bit when physical force is applied, but if that force is too great, they’ll snap like a plastic ruler bent too far. Luckily, they also repair themselves naturally (even better with a cast). Here’s how bones heal.

1. Immediately after a fracture occurs, a blood clot and callus form around it.

2. New “threads” of bone cells start to grow on both sides of the fracture line toward one another.

3. Eventually, the fracture closes up and the callus is absorbed by the new cells. This process may take from six weeks to a year.

RELATED: 14 Non-Dairy Foods That Are High in Calcium

For Stronger Bones, Men Should Do This Kind of Exercise

MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Men who engage in high-impact physical activity and resistance training as teens and young adults are likely to have greater bone density by middle age, according to new research.

Over time, high-impact activities—such as tennis and jogging—help boost bone mass in the hip and lumbar spine, the researchers said. Greater bone mass can help stave off the bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis.

“While osteoporosis is commonly associated with only postmenopausal women, it is, in fact, a serious issue for men as well,” said study author Pamela Hinton. She is an associate professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“Indeed, research has shown that the consequences of osteoporosis can be much worse for men, as they are less likely to be diagnosed and are at a greater mortality risk from fractures that occur as a result of a fall,” Hinton explained in a university news release.

For the study, Hinton’s team analyzed medical data compiled on 203 men aged 30 to 65. The participants had various levels of experience with sports and exercise, and engaged in different types of activities.

The men who engaged in bone-loading or weight-bearing exercise as teenagers had more bone density later in life, the investigators found. High-impact activities, in particular, were important for bone health throughout men’s lives, according to the report published recently in the American Journal of Men’s Health.

“The most important take-away is that if you are healthy, it is never too late to begin high-impact activities or resistance training to improve bone mineral density,” Hinton said.

“While activity during skeletal growth is significant, we also saw positive associations between such physical activity and bone density at all ages. So even middle-aged men who spent their teenage years sitting on the couch could see benefits from beginning a bone-strengthening exercise program,” Hinton added.

Although the study found an association between high-impact exercise and bone density in men, it didn’t prove cause-and-effect.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on exercise and bone density.

Babies Who Walk Earlier May Have Stronger Bones in Their Teens

TUESDAY, May 31, 2016 (HealthDay News) — For all those parents who fret about how quickly their baby will learn to walk, read up.

British scientists report that toddlers who can walk, run and jump by the time they are 18 months old may have stronger bones as teenagers.

The researchers suggested that their findings could help identify those at increased risk for osteoporosis and broken bones later life.

“The findings are intriguing, as they provide a link which wasn’t previously understood, primarily that how we move as a young child can have ramifications for our bone strength even 16 years later,” said lead researcher Dr. Alex Ireland. He’s with Manchester Metropolitan School of Healthcare Science in England.

“We believe that stronger muscles could act as a ‘marker’ for this,” Ireland said in a university news release. “Being more active gives you stronger muscles, which can then apply bigger forces to the bones as we walk, run or jump, helping to strengthen bones as we grow older.”

For the research, the study authors examined data compiled on more than 2,300 people born in the 1990s.

The participants’ movement was assessed when they were 18 months old. The size, shape and mineral density of their hip and shin bones were also measured when they were 17 years old.

Activities such as walking, running and jumping put stress on the bones, which can make them wider, thicker and subsequently stronger, the researchers said.

The study also found that toddlers who walked early had larger muscles and may be more likely to engage in physical activity when they are older. The researchers noted that previous studies have shown that variations in muscle size accounts for about 50 percent of the difference in kids’ bone strength by the age of 17.

Early physical activity and exercise had greater effects on bone strength among the men than the women, the study authors added.

“Importantly, the results could have implications for later life by helping medical practitioners to anticipate and detect those who are at a greater risk of osteoporosis or fractures, thus helping them to devise prevention and coping strategies,” said Ireland. “For example, attainment of these movement skills at an early age can be easily improved even by simple parent-led walking practice at home.”

The study findings were published recently in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about bone health.

Calcium Supplements Linked to Dementia Risk in Older Women

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Taking calcium supplements with the hope of keeping osteoporosis at bay may raise an older woman’s risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

And that seems particularly true if a woman has already sustained an event causing poor blood flow to the brain (cerebrovascular disease), such as from a stroke, researchers said.

The study can’t prove cause-and-effect. However, dementia risk was seven times higher in female stroke survivors who took calcium supplements, compared to women with a history of stroke who didn’t use the supplements, the findings showed.

The risk of dementia also was three times higher in women with white matter brain lesions who took calcium supplements, compared to women with white matter lesions who didn’t take the supplements. Lesions in white matter tissue are evidence of a mini-stroke or some other problem impeding blood flow within the brain.

Because the study can’t prove causality, “women with cerebrovascular disease and osteoporosis should discuss this new information with their clinicians,” said lead researcher Dr. Silke Kern. She is a neuropsychiatric researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Kern noted that some guidelines have recommended that seniors consume 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day to prevent osteoporosis.

But, other research has suggested that calcium supplements may increase a woman’s risk of heart attack or stroke, Kern said.

She stressed that the findings apply only to calcium supplements. Calcium from food appears to affect the brain differently than calcium from supplements, Kern explained, and appears to be safe or even protective.

The current study included information from 700 dementia-free women. The participants were between the ages of 70 and 92 at the start of the study. The study began in 2000, and researchers followed the women’s health for five years.

The study participants took a variety of tests at the beginning and end of the study, including tests of memory and thinking skills. Researchers also conducted CT brain scans on 447 participants at the start of the study, which revealed that 71 percent of these women had white matter lesions.

A total of 98 women were taking calcium supplements at the start of the study, and 54 women had already experienced a stroke. During the study, 54 more women had strokes and another 59 women developed dementia.

Initially, the research team found that the women taking calcium supplements were twice as likely to develop dementia as women who did not take supplements.

However, a more thorough analysis of the data revealed that the risk was being driven by women with signs of cerebrovascular disease—either a previous stroke or signs of white matter damage in their brains.

Kern isn’t sure why calcium supplements might have this effect. Calcium plays a crucial role in cell death, she said, and high levels of calcium in the blood might prompt the early death of neurons. Excess calcium also might somehow affect the blood vessels within the brain.

Dr. Neelum Aggarwal is an associate professor of neurological science and director of research for the Rush Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She said that calcium also can affect brain chemistry, and too much calcium might cause a cascade of events that lead to brain cell degeneration.

But Aggarwal cautioned against blaming calcium supplements alone for any person’s dementia risk.

“We need to consider that the combination of nutrients will be more predictive than one nutrient,” she said. “For example, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium all are typically looked at for their effects on multiple organs, and cognitive [mental] functioning will be affected most likely by a combination of these nutrients. To say that only one nutrient increases the risk of dementia is premature, and more studies need to look at a combination of nutrients.”

Osteoporosis is a major problem for seniors, and it’s worth looking further into the tradeoffs that come with calcium supplements, Aggarwal said.

“My suspicion is that M.D.s will not change their prescribing habits at this time based on this article,” she said. “I would hope this type of study will be reproduced in larger populations and more ethnically diverse populations.”

Duffy MacKay is spokesperson for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement trade association. spokesperson. He agreed that little should change for women based on this study.

“This new calcium study provides limited evidence to support its hypothesis, and therefore we caution against jumping to conclusions. Even the authors acknowledge these findings ‘need to be confirmed,'” MacKay said.

“The authors mined data from a decade-old observational study, which was not originally designed to assess calcium intake,” MacKay noted.

“Further, the new analysis included only 98 women who took calcium supplements and did not include any information on their supplemental calcium dose or duration, or dietary intake of calcium, which are needed in order to draw accurate conclusions about the effects of calcium supplementation,” he explained.

The findings were published online Aug. 17 in the journal Neurology.

More information

To learn more about the types of dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.