The reality, however, is that falling and not low bone mineral density are the primary reason why fractures occur. Since it is a statistical fact that the older you get the more often you fall, and since the older you get the less dense your bones become, it is easy to confuse the lower bone mineral density as a “cause” and not just an “association” with increased fracture risk. The authors of the new study provided this clever cartoon to drive the point home:
Given the reality behind what causes (and prevents) fracture, exercise and its resultant muscular and neurological health effects are of vital importance when it comes to minimizing the risk of falls, as well as surviving them without a fracture. And yet the reality is that the x-ray based DXA scans used to ascertain bone density do nothing but determine the density of the skeletal system, and not bone quality, i.e. strength. Nor can the DXA scan ascertain the structure/function (and therefore health) of the other tissues within the body that directly contribute to determining the risk of falling and the effects that the impact of a fall will have on the skeletal system. The following diagram shows the discrepancy that emerges between reality and the DXA image:
Where is the Evidence for Pharmaceutical “Prevention” of Fracture?
While anti-resportive bone drugs like Fosamax (a bisphosphonate) may contribute to increased bone mineral density, they do not necessarily improve bone quality and strength. Very dense bone created by destroying osteoclasts (bone-degrading cells) may be far more brittle than less dense bone where there is healthy turnover of the osteoclasts and osteoblasts (bone-building cells). In fact, drugs like Fosamax are notorious for contributing to bone degeneration in the jawbone (osteonecrosis). Also, we have discovered an extensive body of research indicating higher-than-normal bone density greatly increases the risk of malignant breast cancer, further calling into question the present day fixation on increasing bone density at any cost with highly toxic calcium supplements and drugs. Moreover, the new study points out that meta-analyses of the clinical literature on pharmacological treatment of osteoporosis for fracture risk reduction have produced almost no supportive evidence. Despite this, they point out that, “Osteoporosis guidelines systematically ignore the obvious ‘evidence void’ in the RCTs.”
The authors conclude: “Given all this, should ‘osteoporosis’ be added to a long list of diagnoses for which doing less, or even nothing, is better than our contemporary practice?”
Thankfully, we don’t just have to “do nothing.” Exercise, nutrition, and practices like yoga, tai chi, etc., can go a long way to reduce the risk of fracture, as well as supporting healthy bone mineral density, and more importantly, bone strength and structural integrity. To learn more use our natural osteoporosis prevention and treatment database to explore study abstracts and articles relevant to this topic.