Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Glad we did all those bone scans


…There has been a change of plans. Or at least of recommendations.

…Sending women to get bone scans to check for incipient osteoporosis (osteopenia) or full-on brittle bones has become another medical staple. Over 50? Time for a DEXA.

…This has been accompanied by youngish, plucky, bloom-of-life type women downing their weekly or monthly bone pill. Even Norma Rae was firing one down.

…Call it fear of fractures.

…Susan Brink, writing in the LA Times (Sept 22, 2008), says half of women over 50 have osteopenia, as defined by the World Health Organization.

…Women stop laying down bone and start losing bone cells as they age. Studies show they lose no more than 7% of their bone density after menopause, These pills (biphosophonates) restore 8% within 5 yrs.

…Better to hold off on the screens until risk gets higher, say some docs.

…Even the ads are showing older gals.

…Waiting until you are 65 is probably fine. Healthy women may be popping these expensive pills to prevent something they are never getting.

…Like all drugs, these have side effects—they tell you to sit up for half an hour so it won’t eat into your esophagus. They can also cause bone pain or a rash. Dentists are also finding more jaw disease among the osteo pill takers.

…The FDA even warned Merck their ads were misleading.

…The National Osteoporosis Foundation, however, warns that half of all women and a quarter or men over 50 will have an osteo-related fracture in their lifetime.

…But these come later as a rule and may be caused as much by factors other than weak bones.

…You can go to www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/, put in data (some in metric), and see what your risk is of a fracture if you are really freaking out. Another site, www.fore.org eliminates the metric aspect.

…So—break a leg.

…No, no, don’t.

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