The human skeleton is a remarkable living tissue, existing in a delicate balance of bone growth (osteoblastic activity) and bone resorption (osteoclastic activity). There are many factors that influence this delicate balance including physical activity, vitamin D levels, certain medications, and most importantly, hormones. Hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone and estradiol stimulate the cells responsible for bone growth, the osteoblasts. In order for bones to stay healthy, the osteoclasts resorb old or defective bone in order to make room for the new bone being layed down by the osteoblasts.
As we age the hormones necessary to stimulate bone growth diminish, and thus our ability to grow new bone decreases. This occurs abruptly in women as they approach menopause, but occurs in men over a period of time as well.
If nothing is done, that is if the hormone deficiencies are not identified and treated using bio-identical hormones, then the activity of the osteoblasts diminishes, and bones get weaker. The solution is to optimize the hormones that build bone, the hormones that accomplished this very well for you for decades, the hormones that God or Nature put in your body for healthy bones. The solution is NOT to take drugs that INHIBIT OSTEOCLAST ACTIVITY, thus not allowing for normal bone remodeling. It is true that bones will get thicker if these cells are inhibited, but the bone becomes less healthy, even brittle, because they do not stimulate bone growth.
The drugs most commonly used to treat osteoporosis, the so-called bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel and Reclast) can have serious side effects including atrial fibrillation, esophagitis (for the oral forms), and may even increase the risk of esophageal cancer. In addition, they can increase the risk of fractures! If you understand the brief description of bone growth and turnover above, then it should make sense that if a drug inhibits the body’s ability to remove old or defective bone, then the bones will become weaker over time. This is especially true if the body is deficient in those substances such as hormones that are necessary for bone GROWTH.
The bottom line is that, in my opinion, these drugs should be banned. We grow healthy bones by engaging in resistance exercise (sorry, but walking is not enough), having optimal levels of vitamin D through supplementation, avoiding drugs such as prednisone which cause bone loss, and using bioidentical hormones when necessary to stimulate bone growth and NOT disrupt bone remodeling like these drugs do.