Health Care Dilemma: Some Prescription Medications Can Lower Bone Density

As women age, they may find themselves between the proverbial 'rock and a hard place' where their health is concerned. Women over 50 are likely to take prescription medications to treat conditions such as thyroid disorder, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia and depression. Unfortunately, some of the medications prescribed for these disorders can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, putting women at higher risk for debilitating hip, spine and wrist fractures. Anti-aging vitamins and supplements may help reduce the risk of losing bone density which can lead to osteoporosis.

Women over 50 are already at increased risk for osteoporosis because women can lose up to half of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause. As the bones become thinner, even a minor bump or fall can cause serious fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture at some point in her life.

Some of the commonly prescribed medications that can damage bone mass include:

Thyroid Drugs: Some of the drugs prescribed to treat thyroid disorders speed up metabolism and cause accelerated bone turnover, which damages bone density. If you are on thyroid medications talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the lowest possible dosage.

Arthritis Medications: Many women take a class of drugs called 'glucocorticoids' which are designed to fight inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia. The drugs lead to gradual bone loss by decreasing density and reducing calcium absorption in the intestine.

Loop Diuretics: These drugs are prescribed to control hypertension by draining extra fluid from the lungs and legs and excreting it through urine. Unfortunately, the increased urination may drain the body's calcium resources, leaving you vulnerable to weak bones.

Antidepressants: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are often prescribed to treat depression, have been linked to decreased bone density in the hips.

Breast Cancer Medications: Postmenopausal women who develop breast cancer are sometimes prescribed aromatase inhibitors. These drugs decrease bone mass because they lower estrogen levels.

Because some of these drugs may be vital for treating certain conditions, many women find themselves in a 'Catch 22' situation where they feel forced to trade one bad outcome for another. If your physician has prescribed any of these medications it would be prudent to discuss the cost/benefit ratio. If you and your physician determine that the drugs are crucial for your health there are steps you can take to mitigate your risks for osteoporosis.

Calcium and Vitamin D and can have a positive impact on bone density. Because most of us don't get enough bone-strengthening minerals and vitamins from dietary sources, millions of people use nutritional supplements to boost bone health. Supplements are available online and in natural health stores. 

Weight-bearing exercises are also an effective way to boost bone health. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics and stair climbing. These exercises work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to discourage mineral loss.

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