Have You Been Prescribed Bone Drugs, Unnecessarily?

Bone-Healthy Living / Health / Osteoporosis / November 20, 2014

Pills on open hand

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis (severely low bone density) you were most likely advised to take prescription bone drugs to stop or reduce bone loss.

So it follows that if you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia (also known as low bone density) you should be given the same prescription, right?

Not exactly.

In fact, recent well-designed, large scale studies show quite the opposite.

I know you’re probably thinking that doesn’t make any sense, but the bone drugs most commonly used to treat osteoporosis such as bisphosphonates do not reduce fracture risk for those with osteopenia.[1]

In fact, The National Osteoporosis Foundation only recommends the use of bisphosphonates for select patients with specific, elevated risks of hip or other major bone fractures, usually meaning osteoporosis or osteopenia with a fracture.[2]

So Why Are So Many with Osteopenia Being Prescribed Medication?

Bone health expert Steve Cummings, who is an MD and professor at the San Francisco School of Medicine believes that, “doctors have come to believe that osteopenia is a problem, and no one is disseminating information about the benefits or risks or worthwhileness of taking treatment if you have osteopenia.”[3]

So while doctors and patients may get worried when they hear the word osteopenia, there is no evidence that it should be treated with bisphosphonates.

It is true that being diagnosed with osteopenia means that you may develop a greater risk for lower bone mineral density and osteoporosis in the future, but you do have something on your side: time.

Time is On Your Side: Stop Further Bone Loss

If you have osteopenia, the good news is that you have time on your side. Time to implement lifestyle changes that can help you maintain bone density and decrease your risk for developing osteoporosis.

What you can do to start combating bone loss is to:

1. Provide your body with the right combination of vitamins and minerals it needs to build strong, healthy bone.

If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia, it does not automatically mean you will develop osteoporosis. But it is wise to take steps to tilt the odds in your favor.

AlgaeCal’s own research on the PubMed database has found 13 different minerals play an important role in bone building – and a diet rich in whole foods will go a long way toward providing them.  Other research proves the importance of adequate protein for bone building so be sure to include healthy protein along with lots of fruit and vegetables.

So, to improve your chances of avoiding osteoporosis, it’s important to follow a diet that is high in leafy greens and vegetables, whole foods, nuts, seeds and lean meats.

2. Improve your balance and strength through exercise.

Low bone density is just one of the many factors that raise your risk of fractures. Other risks include poor vision, bad coordination and delayed reaction time as well as drugs that may cause dizziness. By exercising and improving your strength, balance, and coordination, it’s been proven that you will suffer less falls and in turn, will have a decreased risk of falling and breaking a bone.

If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia, I hope this post gave you a better understanding about your bone health options. If you know someone who may be risk of low bone mineral density (and that pretty much means anyone over the age of 50!), please pass this along by sharing.


  1. ^thennt.com/nnt/bisphosphonates-for-fracture-prevention-in-post-menopausal-women-without-prior-fractures/
  2. ^central-pennsylvania.legalexaminer.com/fda-prescription-drugs/fda-takes-testimony-on-bisphosphonate-use-for-osteopenia/
  3. ^http://dslrf.org/mwh/content.asp?L2=2&L3=3&L4=2&SID=265

Author: Monica Lam-Feist, BS

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