Strontium-based medication may reduce osteoporosis-related fractures

Among individuals with osteoporosis, the risk of fracture is often dramatic. Now, a medical literature analysis has determined that medication based on an alkaline earth metal may be able to decrease the risk of broken bones among women with osteoporosis.

A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International (OI) found that strontium ranelate appears to lower the rate of vertebral fractures among postmenopausal osteoporosis patients by 40 percent.

Vertebral pressure fractures are one of the most common symptoms of the bone loss disease. Individuals who develop a fracture of the vertebra often lose height or experience severe back pain, though these breaks may occur without causing any pain at all.

Researchers also found that the drug reduced the rate of all clinical osteoporotic fractures by one-third.

Strontium is a soft, highly reactive metal used primarily to make glass for cathode ray tubes in television sets. When combined with ranelic acid, it forms strontium ranelate, an anti-osteoporosis treatment that is fairly unique.

A study released in a 2008 issue of OI found that the compound both inhibits the actions of osteoclasts, the human cells that break down bone tissue, and spurs the bone formation caused by osteoblasts.

The new meta-study, which took into account the results of two previous reports, used regression analysis to determine the likelihood that a postmenopausal woman taking the drug would experience any sort of fracture over a 10-year period.

Researchers determined that the overall relative risk reduction associated with strontium ranelate is 31 percent. This includes any fractures associated with postmenopausal osteoporosis.

By 2025, all osteoporosis-related fractures in the U.S. will cost $25.3 billion each year, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Women are at particularly high risk for fracture after menopause. During the first five to seven years after it, women lose around 20 percent of their bone mass, the NOF estimates.