Can treating osteoporosis prolong life? If you take bisphosphonates it might. A new study shows that people who take bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis live longer than those who treat their osteoporosis other ways. Find out more about this surprising new discovery.
The Benefits of Treating Osteoporosis with Bisphosphonates
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers looked at a group of 2,000 people with osteoporosis taking bisphosphonates and compared them to a group taking other types of osteoporosis treatments such as vitamin D with calcium and hormone therapy. After three years of observation, they came to a surprising conclusion. Those taking bisphosphonates lived longer – an extra five years on average.
Do researchers think this lifespan advantage with taking bisphosphonates is real? You might speculate that people who see a doctor to get any kind of treatment for their osteoporosis would be more health-conscious and less likely to die prematurely, which could explain this finding. But when they compared bisphosphonates users to people with osteoporosis taking other treatments, those on bisphosphonates still lived longer.
Bisphosphonates and Osteoporosis
Why would bisphosphonates increase lifespan? Scientists aren’t sure, but they have some ideas. One theory is that bisphosphonate treatment reduces the amount of toxins released into the bloodstream. Bones are storage depots for toxic metals that accumulate in the body over time from diet and the environment. As bone loss occurs with advancing age, toxic metals such as cadmium and lead are released into the bloodstream, which can cause health problems and, possibly, shorten lifespan. By preventing bone loss, taking bisphosphonates reduces the amount of toxic metals that are released into the blood to cause problems.
Even though this explanation sounds plausible, it may not explain why bisphosphonates prolong lifespan while other osteoporosis treatments don’t. Other treatments should also prevent bone breakdown and release of toxic metals into the blood.
The Disadvantages of Taking Bisphosphonates
Bisphosphonates may sound like the ideal osteoporosis treatment if they also prolong life. But there are other concerns about taking them. Many people can’t tolerate them, because they cause stomach and esophageal irritation. In addition, there’s concerns that taking bisphosphonates may increase the risk of long bone fractures by altering the way bone is remodeled. Some people also get achy joints when taking bisphosphonates.
Bisphosphonates and Longevity Benefits: The Bottom Line?
It’s an intriguing observation, but more research is needed to look at bisphosphonates and their effect on longevity. For now, talk to your doctor about your options for treating osteoporosis.
Eurekalert.org. “An Extra 5 Years of Life an Unexpected Benefit of Osteoporosis Treatment”