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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Osteopenia Treatment

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A Healthy Lifestyle continued...

A small percentage of the population may have accelerated bone loss or osteoporosis from Celiac disease, or a gluten sensitivity to wheat products.

Smoking and drinking. If you smoke, it's important to quit. Studies have shown a direct relationship between cigarette smoking and decreased bone density. Quitting smoking may help limit bone loss due to smoking.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men). Too much alcohol can interfere with the balance of calcium in your body and affect the production of hormones and vitamins that play a role in healthy bones. It can also increase your risk of falling, which could cause you to break a bone.

Cutting back on salt and caffeine. Both caffeine and salt may contribute to calcium and bone loss. To improve bone health, switch to non-caffeinated beverages, avoid soft drinks, check labels of packaged foods for sodium content, and remove the salt shaker from your table.

Drugs for Osteopenia

Depending on your situation, particularly if you have already broken a bone, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and further fractures. Medications that may be used for osteopenia or prevention of osteoporosis in these cases include:

  • Bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates are medications that slow the natural process that breaks down bone, which results in maintenance or a small increase of bone density. Bisphosphonates are the main drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. This class of drugs includes Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, and Reclast. Most bisphosphonates are taken by mouth, usually once a week or once a month. Reclast is given by injection, usually once a year.
  • Hormone replacement therapy. Once a popular therapy for preventing bone loss, hormone replacement therapy is rarely used for that purpose anymore, because it has been found to increase the risk for deep venous thrombosis (blood clots in the leg), pulmonary embolus (blood clots in the lung), and other health problems. Sometimes, if hormone replacement has been helpful for easing a woman's menopausal symptoms, her doctor may recommend continuing it for bone loss, too. If you are considering hormone replacement therapy to prevent osteoporosis, speak with your doctor about the potential risks.
  • Parathyroid hormone. Forteo, a portion of hormone made by your parathyroid glands, is the first agent to stimulate the formation of new bone. It is approved for women and men and is given daily by a shot beneath the skin.
  • Evista. Similar to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, this drug is used to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It may also be protective against heart disease and breast cancer; however, more studies are needed to confirm its protective effect. It is taken by mouth once a day.
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