A new method of detecting bone loss could be more effective than X-rays or other tests currently in use to diagnose osteoporosis. A recent article that appeared in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that a testing method using a technique that originated in earth sciences could be safer for patients, and could identify weakening bones sooner, minimizing the risk of fractures, and delaying the need for a bisphosphonate drug like Fosamax.
Method Analyzes Calcium Isotopes in the Body
Scientists at the University of Arizona, along with scientists from NASA, analyzed the isotopes of the calcium naturally found in urine. The technique makes use of “isotope fractionation” which shows scientists how the chemical structure of an element can vary. This method has long been used in environmental studies but has never before been considered for medical testing. By analyzing a patient’s urine, scientists are able to determine how quickly calcium isotopes are able to enter bones. The lighter the isotopes, the more quickly the calcium can get into bones; the heavier they are, the less likely bones will be to absorb calcium, which could lead to bone loss.
“Instead of isotopes of calcium, think about jelly beans,” explained Jennifer Morgan, lead author of the study. “We all have our favorite. Imagine a huge pile of jelly beans with equal amounts of six different kinds. You get to make your own personal pile, picking out the ones you want. Maybe you pick two black ones for every one of another color because you really like licorice. It’s easy to see that your pile will wind up with more black jelly beans than any other color. Therefore, the ratio of black to red or black to green will be higher in your pile than in the big one. That’s similar to what happens with calcium isotopes when bones form. Bone favors lighter calcium isotopes and picks them over the heavier ones.”
Osteoporosis Patients Should Consult a Physician about Treatment Options
The isotope technique could be an effective means of diagnosing osteoporosis, but it is not ready for clinical use. In the meantime, a drug like Fosamax could help those who are coping with bone loss. Very often, however, lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications and the addition of exercise can help strengthen bones and help reverse bone loss. Only a qualified medical professional, however, can advise whether osteoporosis can be treated without medication. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of a drug like Fosamax in order to determine whether it is right for you.
RLG Represents Injured Fosamax Users
If you have been taking Fosamax for an extended period of time and have suffered a femur fracture, it could be because of the medication, and you might be eligible for compensation by filing a lawsuit against Merck. 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 confidential contact form, or call us at 1-877-332-2347, and one of our lawyers will be in touch.
For more information on Fosamax, download our free brochure.