This month the FDA approved the sale of the osteoporosis drug Prolia aimed at preventing bone fractures in post-menopausal women. It's already been hailed as a "blockbuster" for Big Pharma because it works differently than other osteoporosis drugs on the market. And if you've got certain types of cancer, it may even prevent metastases to your bones!
But don't be fooled by the pretty picture. Prolia's just like (if not worse than) the other osteoporosis drugs on the market. I'll explain exactly why in a moment. But first consider this...
1 out of 2 women over 50 are at risk
Osteoporosis is a massive concern for older women. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, one out of every two women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime.
And as painful as breaking a bone when you're 65 sounds, it isn't the worst part. Often when you suffer a fracture like this later in life, the recovery is grueling. For many, it means spending time in rehab. And I can tell you this...NOT ONE woman I know wants to spend four weeks in a rehab facility. Not one.
And Big Pharma knows this. That's why a drug like Prolia is so popular AND dangerous...taking it makes you feel safe. But...
Here's the truth about Prolia (and you won't learn about it in the TV ads)
They say Prolia is different from all the other bisphosphonate drugs used to treat osteoporosis because it contains human antibodies. These antibodies block a chemical that signals the breakdown of bone in the body.
Women will receive it by injection once every six months. And each injection will cost roughly $800. But if I were you, I wouldn't pay one red cent for it.
First off, the FDA approved this drug based on clinical trials that lasted three years. Just three years. Heck, I know companies spend more time than that testing and developing hand lotion for Pete's sake. How do they expect to know the long- term effects of a drug that blocks bone turnover after only three years of testing?
In fact, in one of the three clinical trials the FDA looked at for Prolia, 22 women developed osteonecrosis (or ONJ), a rare jaw-decay problem. (And by the way, any guesses why there are about 900 lawsuits pending against Merck and its bisphosphonate drug Fosamax? Yep, you got it. Patients who took the drug claim they also got the disfiguring jaw-decay problem. A freakish coincidence? I think not.)
But that's not all that Prolia's got going for it. Additionally, the drug appears to tinker with a woman's immune system. In fact, according to WebMD, "In clinical trials, women taking Prolia had a higher risk of serious infections leading to hospitalization, including heart infections."
Heart infections? Really? How's that even possible from a bone drug?
And yet that's still not the end of Prolia's list of problems.
The drug also appears to lower your calcium levels. And it doesn't take an expert to figure out that you won't build strong bones without enough calcium.
Prolia blocks natural cycle of regeneration
Most people think of bones as solid and unchanging. But that's a fallacy. Your bones are in constant flux: breaking down old bone, sending it into the blood, absorbing new calcium, and building new bone.
But Prolia interrupts that natural cycle of regeneration. It blocks bone from breaking down. (So technically, you never lose bone density.) But it also appears to block the building of new bone. And that makes for brittle bones. And brittle bones fracture easily.
Is it any surprise, then, that the FDA has already warned physicians to be on the look-out for increased fractures in women taking Prolia (not to mention the small jaw decay problem the FDA has also warned us about)?
Natural ways to prevent osteoporosis
Unfortunately, there's no quick, shot-in-arm approach for treating osteoporosis. For prevention, make sure to take plenty of calcium and magnesium. (Look for a supplement that contains two parts calcium for every one part of magnesium. Your body needs magnesium to absorb the calcium.) Also, make sure to get plenty of Vitamin D. Like magnesium, it builds your bone density by helping your body absorb calcium. You may want to even consider a multi-mineral supplement, as treating osteoporosis also involves less well-known minerals, such as manganese, molybdenum, silica, boron, zinc, copper and strontium.
In addition, every woman over 50 should also take digestive enzymes and betaine hydrochloride with each meal. We talked about these digestives aides last week. As you'll recall, your digestive juices diminish as you get older and your body can't break down your food properly. As a result, your body fails to absorb vital nutrients -- like calcium. By adding natural digestive enzymes into your regimen, you'll improve your absorption of calcium and other nutrients.
Next, you should get plenty of exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises. You see, your bones are built to bear weight. In fact, that's why overweight women rarely get osteoporosis. (Not that I recommend you gain weight to prevent fractures. Far from it.) It's also why astronauts who spend a lot of time in zero gravity conditions lose bone mass.
Lastly, to prevent bone loss, you'll also need to avoid caffeine and, yes, alcohol. They rob your body of nutrients. Just follow those rules and you'll have a head start at preventing osteoporosis.
But what about treating the disease...
Can you really cure osteoporosis naturally?
Of course, you can.
In fact, many women with osteoporosis have either low progesterone or low testosterone (yes, women have it too). And these hidden hormonal imbalances can even cause osteoporosis. Correct the hormone imbalance and you'll correct the bone problem too.
So if you've got osteoporosis, I recommend getting a blood test to check both your progesterone and testosterone levels. If either number is low, find a good naturopath who can help you investigate these hormonal causes for osteoporosis.
My own mother, at age 65, was diagnosed as 'severely osteoporotic.' I began treating her with natural (or bioidentical) progesterone. Over three years, every bone density scan kept improving until she was completely out of the high-risk category. In fact, her doctors were so amazed they said her first scan must have been wrong.
To find a good naturopath in your area who has expertise in treating osteoporosis and hormone disorders, visit www.naturopathic.org.
As always, be wary of the next new wonder drug, no matter how good the TV ads look. Chances are; it's just a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing.