Posts Tagged "bone loss"

Wednesday Bubble: close to the bone

Posted by on Jul 15, 2009 in bone health | 0 comments

Let’s be honest; bone loss is a natural part of aging.

As I’ve written previously, women are at particularly high risk for bone loss as they age because of declining estrogen levels, and in turn, a reduced ability to prevent an increase in net bone resorption (or bone loss due to the activity of bone cells). Although isoflavones (plant derived compounds with estrogen-like properties) have been reported to protect bone from deficiencies in estrogen, there have been little data that show that they can specifically influence resorption.

Hence, I was interested in a small study published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism examining of four different types of isoflavone supplements on bone resorption. In it, researchers compared supplements containing the isoflavones soy cotyledon (derived from the leaf coating around the seed of the soybean), soy germ (the embryo of the soybean), kudzu and red clover to 1 mg estradiol plus 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone or 5 mg/day of the anti-osteoporosis agent Actonel®.

Study findings showed that the hormones plus progesterone or Actonel significantly decreased net bone resorption by as much as 22% and 24%, respectively. In comparison, only soy isoflavones derived from the cotyledon and germ had a significantly modest effect on reducing bone resorption (by 9% and 5%, respectively), while kudzu and red clover did not.

Clearly, this study, while small, shows that isoflavones can help to prevent bone loss during menopause. However, not all isoflavones are created equal, and source appears to as important as insuring that the product is standardized and manufactured in a licensed facility. What’s also notable about this study is that the researchers did not examine whether or not ingesting the specific isoflavones via food sources would have an equally beneficial effect.

Because it can be difficult to discern which products contain which types of isoflavones and the amounts, it’s best to speak to a nutritionist or a naturopath before supplementing your diet. No bones about it though; the results are promising enough to warrant further study.

What steps are you taking to prevent bone loss as you age? And if you use soy, in what forms are you taking it?

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Bad to da bone, part 2

Posted by on Mar 20, 2009 in bone health | 2 comments

Is there any way to prevent bone loss after menopause? It is possible that eating the proper balance of dietary fats (i.e. omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids) may help.

In a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers assessed bone mineral content and bone density in female rats. These measures are used to determine how much bone loss you have in a particular area and the risk for developing osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides an excellent summary.

In the study, half the rats had their ovaries removed (leading to a rapid decline in estrogen and subsequent bone loss) and half remained intact. They were then fed diets with different ratios of omega-3s and omega-6s. After 12 weeks, data showed that rats with the lowest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in their diets had significantly less bone loss and a higher bone mineral density, even in the absence of estrogen. This translated to significantly lower bone loss.

Omega-6 fatty acids are most commonly found in foods such as vegetables oils, nuts,  seeds and eggs while omega-3 fatty acids are more commonly found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel),  nuts (walnuts) and certain vegetable oils. Notably,  eating both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids has been shown to lower the risk of heart and possibly other diseases. However, research continues to point to balance.

These particular findings may be due to the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the production of inflammatory compounds that associated with the breaking down or “resorption” of bones. Estrogen provides a similar protective effect but after its decline, the body becomes more vulnerable.

While researchers caution that the study results cannot be translated to humans, they certainly look promising.

It’s all about balance, right?!

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Wednesday Bubble: Just say “no”

Posted by on Feb 25, 2009 in bone health, breast cancer, hot flash, HRT, nightsweats | 4 comments

Gonna burst that hormone bubble at least one more time. Seems that the synthetic hormone Livial, which is billed as an alternative to HRT, significantly increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Ouch!

Livial is a selective tissue estrogenic regulator (SERM), which mimics estrogen’s activity with regards to strengthening bones. The agent has mostly been marketed in Europe for treatment of hot flashes, night sweats and bone loss, as well as a treatment for osteoporosis.

In a study reported in the current issue of The Lancet Oncology, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of 2.5 mg/day of Livial compared to placebo  in more than 3,000 women with a history of breast cancer. Although the agent had a positive effect symptoms and bone density, the trial was stopped six months early because women taking Livial had a 40% increased risk of having their breast cancer return.

The researchers state that the likely reason for this increase is that Livial interferes with the protective effect of different cancer drugs and might stimulate dormant tumors to become active again.

Clearly, Livial should not be used in women with a history of breast cancer. Then again, with data definitively showing an increased risk of cancer and heart disease with use of hormone therapy, why take a chance to begin with?

What are your thoughts? Is estrogen worth the risk for a few less symptoms? Or are you better off taking an alternative route?

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Bad to da bones

Posted by on Oct 24, 2008 in bone health | 4 comments


Many of us have reached for that third, sometimes fourth glass of wine when out with friends. An occasional trangression never hurts, right?  But for years now, researchers have been warning us to skip those last two glasses. Besides the usual suspects, like breast cancer or stroke, binge drinking (4 or more drinks in a 2 hour period for women, 5 or more for men) can also reduce bone mass and bone strength and consequently, increase the risk for osteoporosis.

Now, for the first time, researchers have identified why binge drinking is bad for da bones – it’s all about genes!

What they found that rats given amounts of alcohol equivalent to binge drinking showed altered expression of two molecular pathways directly responsible for for normal bone metabolism and bone mass. These effects remained even after factors such as body weight or bone mass density were accounted for.

The researchers also found that an anti-bone resorptive agent known as ibandronate was able to correct changes in gene expression., which suggests that alcohol-related bone loss may be correctable. The study was published in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

So, why should you care?

As I’ve written before, women undergoing menopause are already at risk for bone loss and osteoporosis. Binge habits may simply exacerbate this process, leading to an even greater risk.

My grandmother always said “everything in moderation.” She lived to be 90 and was still moving furniture around her apartment in her mid-80s.  That lady was bad to the bone, for sure!

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