Researchers say taking a break from osteoporosis drugs may be beneficial

According to a study conducted at Loyola University Health System, taking time off from certain osteoporosis drugs may be beneficial to bone health. Researchers found that bone density remained stable for three years in patients who took a drug "holiday" from bisphosphonates - a popular class of osteoporosis drugs that can cause fractures in the thigh bones and tissue decay in the jaw bone.

"These drugs are potentially harmful when taken for long durations, yet little has been known until now about the length of time osteoporosis patients should go without treatment for this debilitating condition," said Pauline Camacho, EndocrineWeb Editorial Board member, study investigator and director of the Loyola University Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease Center. "Our study demonstrated that bones can remain stable for a number of years after these drugs are discontinued."

Doctors recommend that patients take drug "holidays" from bisphosphonates after four to five years of use. These medications can continue to stabilize bones and reduce the risk for bone loss after treatment ends.

The study's goal was to identify the optimal drug "holiday" length after prolonged use of bisphosphonates based on changes in bone mineral density and bone loss.