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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Test your doctor's knowledge about Bisphosphonates: Updated

In response to my recent articles about bisphosphonate drugs, some readers have questioned their doctors about side effects of taking these. The responses have been astonishing: "No knowledge of any adverse reports", or that any side effects are "extremely rare", or merely "bothersome".

I guess that having your jaw drop off is "bothersome".

When it comes to your health, there is no margin for error. Unlike your car, you can not replace your body if your doctor blunders.

So, here is a short test of your doctor's knowledge about Bisphosphonate Drugs:
  • What is the estimated half life in the body for these drugs if I stop taking them today?
    • Answer: As long as 10 years
  • What is the name of the cells in the bone that the drug inhibits
  • What is "Fossy Jaw"?
    • Answer: Jaw bone death related to this class of drug. In the 19th Century match factory workers were found to develop "Phossy Jaw" or "Fossy Jaw", the death of bone tissue in the jaw that led to hideous deformation, a draining of disgusting and smelly pus, and an inability to eat or talk, that led to death unless the jaw was surgically removed (a remedy that didn't always work). This disease was so terrible that many people killed themselves. Fossy Jaw was related to the phosphorus from the matches that found its way into the bony structure of the jaw, inhibiting bone turnover, and causing death of the bone cells (medical term: osteonecrosis of the jaw).
  • Have there been any reports recently of spontaneous fractures of the femur related to this class of drug (bisphosphonates)?
If your doctor can not answer all of these questions correctly I suggest that you change doctors.

I will be writing more about exercise and nutrition for bone health in future articles so keep a watch for them.

Do you have a question?
Email Gary: gary at (Replace the "at" with @ and remove spaces). Please include any relevant background information to your question.

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