Men with prostate cancer have routinely been prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements, which, until recently, seemed like a sensible plan of action to minimize the bone loss hormone therapy has been known to cause.
Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have found reason to believe that men, like women, do not benefit from extreme supplementation of calcium and vitamin D when trying to prevent bone loss. What’s more, the researchers report in the online journal, The Oncologist, too much calcium and vitamin D might increase the risk of heart disease, and cause prostate cancer to become more aggressive.
Hormone Therapy and Bisphosphonates Most Common Treatments
“It wouldn’t be so bad if there simply was no obvious benefit,” says Dr Gary Schwartz, a prostate cancer epidemiologist at Wake Forest Baptist, and lead author of the study. “The problem is there is evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and aggressive prostate cancer, the very disease we are trying to treat.”
Hormonal or androgen deprivation therapy is the mainstay treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. It reduces serum levels of androgens on which most prostate cancers depend, say the researchers.
Just as in women going through menopause, a side effect of the therapy in men is bone loss, or osteoporosis. One in 10 of these men will experience a fracture within two years of therapy.
“Calcium and/or vitamin D supplementation to prevent loss of bone mineral density in these men seems so logical that no one had questioned whether it works,” says Dr Mridul Datta, co-author of the study.
According to the Prostate Cancer Research Institute, bisphosphonates are routinely administered to both men and women while they undergo certain cancer treatments, in order to prevent bone loss. The treatments are given either in pill form (Fosamax, Actonel, or Boniva) or intravenously (Zometa or Aredia). Men are also encouraged to perform strength-training exercises similar to those women are advised to do to help strengthen bones.
Bisphosphonate Users Should Consult a Physician about Supplementation
While some men and women are able to prevent bone loss with diet and exercise, some might need additional supplements or medication to reverse the effects of the condition. Only a qualified physician can help you determine what is right for you. Excessive use of calcium and vitamin D supplements, as described in the situation here, is probably not a viable alternative to medication.
RLG Represents Injured Fosamax Users
Some osteoporosis sufferers benefit from Fosamax, taking the drug as directed without any serious side effects.
If you have been taking Fosamax for an extended period of time, however, and have suffered an injury, it could be because of the medication, and you might be eligible for compensation by filing a lawsuit against Merck & Co., the manufacturer of the drug. The lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group can help. Our lawyers have over 25 years of collective experience advocating for clients in consumer product injury and mass tort cases. Please fill out our contact form or call us at 1-877-332-2347, and one of our lawyers will be in touch.
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