Medications That Cause Osteoporosis

Medications that cause osteoporosis do so in a variety of different ways.

It's not the pharmaceutical industry's intention that they do so, it's more of an unintended (and statistically acceptable) consequence of their drugs' interaction with the human body.

Depending on one's health issues and why one is taking a medication that can cause decreased bone density, one of course needs to weigh the benefits and the risks.

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Some Evidence For These Medications That Cause Osteoporosis

These are a few common medications that have at least a small amount of research and evidence showing a link to increasing osteoporosis:

  1. Antacids
  2. Acetaminophen
  3. Diabetes medications
  4. Blood thinners like Heparin
  5. Statins

1.  Antacids

Antacids decrease stomach acid (and help create chronic stomach acid production dysfunction issues.

Lack of optimal stomach acid function DECREASES nutritient digestions and absorbtion.

Lack of proper nutrients means nutrition doesn't get to bones and thus bones weaken.

Antacids may have other more direct nutrient blocking actions.

2.  Acetaminophen

Comparing individuals who have regularly taken acetaminophen for a minimum of 3 years verses individuals who have not shows a increased risk of fracture in the acetaminophen users.

3. Diabetes medications

Some diabetes medications like Avandia and Actos have been shown to cause an increased risk of fracture when used 4 years or more.

4.  Blood thinners

Blood thinners like Heparin have little effect when used for short periods of time.  Long term use has been shown to reduce bone density.

5.  Statins

Statins like Lipitor are proven to deplete the body of magnesium.  Magnesium is required for the body to adequately utilize calcium.

Statins are not generally considered to be a cause of osteoporosis, but the mechanis of their function assures eventual loss of bone density.

Lots Of Evidence Of These Medications That Cause Osteoporosis

And then there are drugs known to reduce bone density, in a variety of different ways.

  • Androgen (deprivation of)
  • Antidepressants
  • Cyclosporine
  • Diuretics
  • Heartburn drugs
  • Prednisone
  • Thyroid repacement therapy
  • Biphosphonates

1.  Androgen deprivation

Antiandrogen therapy, using drugs like cyproterone acetate, flutmine, and nilutamide to target and suppress androgen production in the testes, doesn't directly cause osteoporosis.

By which I mean, the drug itself doesn't affect the body in a osteoporosis producing fashion.  

But shutting down androgen production (or uptake) removes an important hormone from the body, and that results in, among other things, reduced bone density.

2.  Antidepressants

The CDC states (last I looked) that 11% of Americans over 12 years of age take antidepressants.  That's a lot of people.

SSRI's inhibit serotonin uptake.

Serotonin, of course, modulates skeletal effects of parathyroid hormone.

A canadian study concludes that serotonin inhibitors double the risk of 'fragility' fracture.

3. Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine is an immunosuppresant drug used in organ transplant patients to prevent rejection of the foreign organ.

That's great, and more important than bone density decreasing over time.  Having said that, Cyclosporine leads to the uncoupling of bone formation and reabsorbtion factors. 

Calcium homeostasis depends upon the interplay of intestinal calcium absorbtion, renal excretion, and skeletal uptake of calcium.

4.  Diuretics

Diuretics like Lasix (furosemide) are used to treat swelling and excess fluid retention. The cause the body to increase urination..which also increase calcium excretion from the kidneys.

The increased loss of fluids takes nutrition with it.  And as the body loses calcium, the body pulls calcium from bones to replace it.

5. Heartburn Drugs

Doctors prescribe drugs like Neium and Prevacid to 'treat' so called diseases as ulcers, acid reflux and heartburn.

These proton pump inhibitors reduce acid production in the stomach.  This disruption in stomach acid mechanism reduces nutritional absorbtion.

Less calcium uptake, more calcium pulled from bones to replace it.

6.  Prednisone

Cortisol and cortisone (Glucodorticoids) are produced naturally by the body and are important for normal function.  Synthetic prednisone is used as an anti-inflammatory.

But high levels reduce activity of bone forming cells and increased activity by cells that break down bone.

Cortisone injections are said to not be problematic (debatable), but longer term use of pills results in bone density loss.

7.  Thyroid Replacement

Thyroid hormone is important to maintain healthy bone.

Thyroid replacement therapy uses drugs like Synthroid to help maintain hormone levels in people with non-optimal thyroid function.

Too little thyroid hormone in the body, or too much (from treatment or otherwise) can cause a reduction in bone density.

8.  Biphosphonates

Of medications that cause signs and symptoms of osteoporosis, Biphosphonates may be the most sinister.

The most famous, Fosamax (alendronate), is advertised and pushed as an anti-osteoporosis drug.  Prescribed by doctors to help patients have denser bones.

But research shows that is actual causes bones to weaken and crumble, most notably resulting in thigh bone breaks and jaw bone death (meaning, the jaw bone itself dies).

Esophogeal cancer and irregular heart beats were other complaints.

And Many More Medications That Cause Osteoporosis

The above list is not complete.  There are many more medications that cause osteoporosis.

For instance, breast cancer drugs like Aromasin and Arimidex prevent estrogen production, and have been shown to cause bone loss.

Depo-Provera, a contraceptive drug, has been shown to cause a significant decrease in bone density.

Drugs affect the body in more ways than doctors promise.  It is worth more investigation to make sure that they are not affecting your body negatively, and/or finding ways to counter their negative affects.

How Do Medications That Cause Osteoporosis Do It?

Every class of medication is different. So each and every of the medications that cause osteoporosis can cause effect on bone density in a different manner.

Antacids reduce nutrient absorbtion and that causes problems.

Antiandrogens and breast cancer drugs alter hormone function and that causes problems.

Antidepressants disrupt serotonin uptake and that causes problems.

Aromatase inhibitors decrease bone mineral density.

Etc, etc.

As different medications affect the body and how the body works in different ways, they can also play a role in the Tendonitis dynamic.

See What Causes Tendonitis?

EVERYTHING in the body is connected.  As one thing is affected, everything else must respond/react/adjust.

This brief and incomplete overview of medications that cause osteoporosis isn't an argument for NOT taking these drugs, as sometimes they are necessary and life saving (and sometimes they are not at all necessary and can be avoided).  

However, knowing that the drugs that one is taking can directly cause and/or lead to osteoporosis allows one to take countermeasurs to keep bone density strong.

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