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Strengthening bones without hormones.

Strengthening bones without hormones

A nonhormonal drug increased bone mass and reduced fracture incidence in 66 postmenopausal women suffering from osteoporosis, report U.S. and Danish researchers in the May 3 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

The disease, which occurs most often in women over the age of 50 and has been linked to low levels of the sex hormone estrogen, develops when bone loss exceeds buildup in the constant bone-remodeling process spearheaded by two classes of cells -- osteoclasts, which break down bone, and osteoblasts, which rebuilt it. In their three-year study, the scientists found that low doses of etidronate disodium -- a drug known to inhibit osteoclast activity in patients with Paget's disease, another bone disorder -- showed similar effectiveness in osteoporotic women without suppressing bone mineralization as higher doses had done in previous studies. Compared with study participants who received calcium supplements only, women who received calcium and the drug had an average 8 percent greater bone mass and only 11 percent as many bone fractures, report researchers at Sundby Hospital in Copenhagen, the University Institute of Pathology in Aarhus and the University of California, San Francisco.
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Publication:Science News
Date:May 26, 1990
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