Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Do Your Medications Affect Your Bones?

Anti-Cancer Drugs and Bone Health

If you've had breast cancer and are taking certain drugs that affect your bones, your doctor should monitor your bone density and may prescribe a bone-maintenance drug.

Some breast cancer patients take a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor. These drugs include:

These drugs target a substance your body makes called aromatase. That leads to lower estrogen levels, which can dim estrogen-fueled cancers.

That's good news for your cancer, but lowering your estrogen levels can be bad for your bones, since estrogen stops bone resorption. That's why doctors often prescribe improved lifestyle changes such as exercise, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and bone-maintenance drugs to women who are taking the aromatase inhibitors.

Men who have been treated for prostate cancer are sometimes prescribed anti-androgen therapy. Examples of these drugs include bicalutamide (Casodex), flutamide (Eulexin), and nilutamide (Nilandron).

These drugs block the action of the hormone testosterone, usually slowing prostate cancer growth. However, these medications can decrease bones' density and increase fracture risk, so doctors may prescribe changes in lifestyle such as exercise, smoking cessation, reduced caffeine intake, and a bone-maintenance drug.

Antidepressant Drugs and Bone Health

Some drugs used to treat depression, known as SSRIs, may affect your bones. Examples of SSRIs include:

That's not to say you shouldn't take them. When weighing risks and benefits, Kearns says to remember that depression itself has been linked with poor bone health.

However, most studies looking at the effects of SSRIs on bone health have found a greater chance of fractures in people taking drugs, Kearns says.

One study, for instance, found those currently taking the SSRI antidepressants were more than twice as likely to have a fracture not in their spine than those not taking an SSRI. Another study of women with a history of depression showed lower bone density in those who had taken SSRIs than those who didn't take the drugs.

Kearns' advice: Ask your doctor each time they refill the antidepressant prescription: "Is this still the right drug?" "Is this the right dose?" Make sure the doctor prescribing your antidepressant knows about your bone health concerns, and consider asking about how much calcium and vitamin D you need.

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
senior woman
Woman holding plate of brocolli
wrist xray
Superfood for Bones
mature woman
sunlight in hands
man and woman in front of xray
woman with dumbbells