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Fluoride Deemed Effective in Osteoporosis Study

Fluoride Deemed Effective in Osteoporosis Study

Tuesday October 23, 2001

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Fluoride, in combination with calcium and vitamin D, increases bone mass and lowers the risk of backbone fractures associated with osteoporosis, researchers report.

Fluoride is known to stimulate new bone formation, but concerns about its safety have limited its use in the elderly, according to Dr. Craig D. Rubin from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and others who contributed to the research. There is no FDA-approved drug for osteoporosis that increases bone formation.

In their study, Rubin and associates compared fluoride, calcium, and vitamin D with calcium and vitamin D alone in the treatment of 85 women aged 65 years or older who had already experienced one or more backbone fractures from osteoporosis. The fluoride used was a long-acting form.

Women treated with fluoride saw a 68% reduction of new or repeat fractures compared with women who did not receive fluoride, the authors report in the October 22nd issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

According to the results, the chance of fractures in other locations did not differ in the two groups of women, and estrogen use did not seem to influence the results.

Bone density increased in both treatment groups, the report indicates, without measurable differences between the two.

Women treated with fluoride showed significant improvements in various measures of bone formation compared with women not treated with fluoride, the researchers note, suggesting that fractures were prevented by bone remodeling and bone formation.

None of the ill effects previously associated with the use of higher doses of fluoride were seen in these patients, the investigators point out.

"Our findings support the use of (long-acting) sodium fluoride with calcium and (vitamin D) in treating older ambulatory women with established osteoporosis," Rubin and colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine 2001;161:2325-2333.

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