Osteoporosis medications reduce risk of death in women

Due to the increased risk of death associated with osteoporosis, researchers from Australia's Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of New South Wales recently analyzed the effect that medications for bone loss have on longevity.

The team found that women who took bisphosphonates or hormone therapy for osteoporosis had a lower likelihood of premature mortality.

The authors of the study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, also found that calcium or vitamin D treatments did not significantly reduce the risk of bone loss-related death, although such therapies did increase bone density.

Coming to this determination involved the analysis of data collected from more than 2,000 participants in the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, which is currently the world's longest-running investigation into the prevalence of fractures caused by bone disease, according to the Garvan Institute.

After calculating mortality rates by gender and medication type, researchers concluded that women with osteoporosis are more likely than men to see a treatment-related dip in their mortality risk.

For female participants, those who took bisphosphonates saw a decrease in mortality of 0.8 deaths per 100 person-years, or 0.8/100 PYs. Women who took hormone therapy experienced an even more dramatic dip in their risk of death - an average decrease of 1.2/100 PYs.

The bisphosphonate-related improvement in female longevity held true even after adjusting for advanced age, fractures, leg strength and bone mineral density.

Among men with osteoporosis, however, the results were not quite as clear.

Those who took bisphosphonates displayed a 1/100-PYs decrease in mortality, and consuming calcium or vitamin D resulted in a full 3.1/100-PY reduction in risk of death. That said, statistical adjustment for other health factors caused this effect to essentially disappear.

Researchers concluded that taking nutritional or pharmacological treatments for osteoporosis reduces the mortality risk among women and may do the same for men, though further investigation is needed.

A 50-year-old woman has a 2.8 percent risk of hip fracture-related death over the rest of her life, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.