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Osteoporosis

Injection for Better Bones

14 years, 4 months ago

1823  0
Posted on Apr 06, 2005, 6 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and are more likely to break. If not prevented or if it's left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Any bone can be affected, but the hip and spine are especially prone to fracture.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and are more likely to break. If not prevented or if it's left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Any bone can be affected, but the hip and spine are especially prone to fracture. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk and may cause prolonged or permanent disability. It can even cause death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis, and about 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, which places them at increased risk for osteoporosis. Of the 10 million Americans who have osteoporosis, 8 million are women and 2 million are men. While osteoporosis is often thought to be an older person's disease, it can strike at any age.

SYMPTOMS: Osteoporosis is sometimes called the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture.

RISK FACTORS: Certain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. Some factors that increase a person's chances of developing osteoporosis include:

  • History of fracture after age 50

     

  • Low bone mass

     

  • Being female

     

  • Being thin and/or having a small frame

     

  • A family history of osteoporosis

     

  • An inactive lifestyle

     

  • Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause

     

  • Low calcium intake

INJECTION HELPS BONES: Oral medications are sometimes used to reduce fracture risk, but some women stop taking them, while others complain of upset stomach. Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland are studying a new medicine known as AMG 162. It's an injection that's given through a shot in the skin. Michael McClung, M.D., says, "With osteoporosis medications, it's clear that fewer than 50 percent of people who are given a prescription continue their treatment beyond a year." Researchers studied 400 women. The new injection increased bone density as much as the oral medications. However, doctors say since it's given through the skin, it does not cause upset stomach. Dr. McClung says it offers another advantage. "The ability to administer AMG 162 only twice yearly provides the opportunity to get away from the difficulty we have of people stopping their medication," he says. Scientists must now prove the injection actually helps prevent fractures. They plan to enroll several thousand women in another trial that is expected to last three years. Women who received AMG 162 did not report any more side effects than those who received a placebo.

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