I have written often about osteoporosis (weak bones) and I want to explain more about why we should be very concerned about the wholesale prescribing of bisphosphonate class drugs for preventing the progress of osteoporosis. It is increasingly likely that Granny will be prescribed these drugs if there is any hint of osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are the same class of phosphate chemicals that are found in some laundry detergents. If this does not put you off these drugs right away, read on...
Bones are living organs that are being constantly rebuilt by the actions of two very special cells in your bones - osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
These cells perform a rather miraculous balancing act. The osteoblasts make the bone framework, while the osteoclasts break it down. Between the 2 of them, they make sure that the bones are healthy and maintain their proper shape. If a bone gets damaged, the osteoblasts make new bone to repair the damage. The osteoclasts break down any extra bone framework that the osteoblasts make. When the bone forms, the osteoblasts are trapped within it. They are then called osteocytes. Although they no longer make new bone, they are involved in maintaining the bone structure.
This is where it gets interesting: Exercise, including daily activities like walking to the shops, putting out the washing and making the beds, stimulates the osteoblasts into action, laying down new healthy bone, while the osteoclasts remove the old stuff. If there is no activity, the osteoclasts just keep on doing what they do with the result that there is an overall loss of bone. Especially if there is also a shortage of essential nutrients, like Calcium, magnesium, protein and vitamin D.
So, if Granny is inactive and if her diet is poor and if she is not getting any sunlight, she will start losing bone mass. The obvious remedy is daily activity, a nutrient rich diet and plenty of sunlight. The javelin thrower in the picture to the right is a wonderful example of somebody who is doing the right things to maintain healthy bones regardless of age.
The following has to be the most cynical action ever when it comes to dealing with a health problem: Some smart person discovered that the chemicals in soap powders kills off these hard-working bone cells - no bone loss. So, here's a way to make billions of dollars - make the stuff into a pill, give it a misleading name like "Fosamax" and sell it as a cure for osteoporosis.
The problem is dead bone becomes brittle bone. Worse still, dead bone does not heal when damaged. When damaged, the bone just ulcerates away. The condition is called "osteonecrosis". Google the word and be prepared to be disturbed, if not horrified. So, routine procedures like dental work can turn into an incurable nightmare of jaw rot.
If a relation of yours is on any of these "bone drugs", I urge you to question the need and to ask why natural therapies (sunshine, nutrition, exercise and diet) have not been prescribed.