The Biggest Myths About Osteoporosis

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Dr. Frank Shallenbergers

Vol. 7, No. 6

June 2008

The 3 Biggest Myths About OsteoporosisPlus, what you can do to have the bone strength you had years ago!I see them in my office all the time: women with bones so brittle they could snap. Yet the astonishing thing is that these women have not neglected their bones. On the contrary, theyre doing everything theyre supposed to do to strengthen their bones. Theyre taking fistfuls of calcium and other supplements. Theyre eating dairy and soy. Theyre doing weight-bearing exercise. Theyre putting wild yam cream on their thighs. Yet despite taking supplements, despite exercising, and sometimes despite trying drugs, theyre finding very little improvement in their bones. Why? Ive told you about the problems with calcium supplements in past issues. Next to calcium, women are now falling for what I call the 3 Biggest Myths About Osteoporosis. Today, Im going to expose those myths. But more importantly, Im going to tell you how to reverse osteoporosis. And I do mean reverse. You can literally regain the bone mass you had 10 or 20 years ago. You can do the things you enjoy without fear of a slip or fall that could land you in a hospital or nursing home. So lets get started

In this IssueSome alternative doctors will tell you to avoid prescription osteoporosis drugs. But heres when they can work miracles ............................ p. 3 One of the most popular supplements on the market can cause cancer and heart attacks. Heres how to use it correctly ...................................... p. 4 My secret remedy for preventing digestion problems this one is sure to surprise you................ p. 6 Do Splenda and other artificial sweeteners contribute to pancreatic cancer? ...................... p. 8

Coming Next Month

In the past, Ive told you how to prevent The common food additive that causesParkinsons you can even find it in many health foods.

cancer. Now Im going to tell you what to do if you already have cancer. You wont read this anywhere else.

Myth # 1:Bone Density Tests Predict Your Chances of Developing OsteoporosisThe truth: Only to a point. You see, bone density is a statistical test. The test looks at the density of your bones, and then

compares that number to the statistics for someone your age and sex. The problem is that each person is different. Whats strong bone for one person isnt necessarily the same for another. Another weakness of this method is that its difficult to compare two bone density tests. The technician must aim the X-ray at the exact same spot on the same bone. If youre just one-sixteenth of an inch off, you can get different results even if your overall bone health hasnt changed. I see this all the time when I look at prior bone density tests of my new patients. The tests show that the density went up in four different places but also went down in four different places. The bottom line is that you should take your bone density measurements with a grain of salt. The test cant tell you how strong your bones are, and the results may not be all that accurate. Yet most doctors use only bone density tests to diagnose osteoporosis or osteopenia. And thats a shame. There are newer, better ways to truly check the density and the strength of your bones. The problem is, many doctors havent even heard of these tests. The solution: Ask your doctor to run an N-telopeptide test. Its a urine test that measures how much bone youre losing. If N-telopeptide is too high in the urine, it means your rate of bone loss is too high. And one good thing about this test is that you can do it every few weeks if you want.Real Cures (ISSN 1062-4163) is published monthly by Soundview Publishing, LLC. Publisher: Wallis W. Wood; Editor: Frank Shallenberger, MD. Subscriptions $49 per year; foreign addresses add $13 U.S. per year. Send new subscriptions or changes of address to our Business Office: P Box 467939, Atlanta, GA 31146-7939, 800-728-2288 or .O. 770-399-5617. Real Cures is a newsletter containing general comments on health, nutrition, and medicine. Readers are advised to consult with their own physician before implementing any health idea they read about, whether here or in any other publication. Copyright 2008 by Soundview Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of this newsletter or its contents by xerography, facsimile, or any other means is illegal.

Another good thing about this test is that if you begin therapy right away, youll see an improvement in four to six weeks. With bone density tests, it takes a year or more to see a difference. The N-telopeptide test is relatively inexpensive, and almost all labs can run it. However, a lot of doctors still dont know about it. And because of that, many doctors prescribe osteoporosis drugs that their patients may not need. Which brings us to

Myth #2:You Should Never Use Prescription DrugsThe Truth: Long-term use of prescription drugs is dangerous. But over the shortterm, they can be a quick way to build bone tissue. Youve probably heard about the dangers of bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax, Zometa, and Actonel. The most serious danger is that these drugs have been linked to a bone disease called osteonecrosis of the jaw. In this condition, the gums and jawbone stop generating new tissue. The jawbone dies. The teeth fall out. Sometimes the dead or decayed portions of the jawbone have to be removed by a surgeon. So why am I saying that these drugs are OK to take over the short-term? Because every single case of necrosis of the jaw occurred when the person was either taking the drugs for many years, or was taking the more potent versions of the drugs (which are usually used in chemotherapy). The solution: If you have severe osteoporosis, bisphosphonate drugs may be a good stopgap measure to increase your bone mass quickly. Studies show that over the short-term, these drugs do, in fact, result in stronger bone. If you do use these drugs, you should use them for only a year. Thats long enough to get the benefits, but not long enough to suffer the serious side effects.


Myth #3Hormone Therapy Is DangerousThe (Surprising) Truth: Youve seen all the news stories about how hormone replacement therapy can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. But heres what those stories fail to mention: All these dangers come from synthetic hormones, not natural ones. You probably know that Premarin, the most commonly prescribed estrogen, comes from horses. (The name Premarin actually stands for Pregnant Mare Urine.) Indeed, Premarin contains over 49 different horse estrogens, not one of which is naturally found in humans. Of course its going to cause problems when humans take it! And as bad as Premarin is, its not nearly as bad as Provera, the synthetic progesterone (progestin) doctors prescribed for years. In fact, the oft-quoted HRT studies show that women who took Premarin alone didnt fare that badly. Its when they added Provera that their rates of cancer and heart disease skyrocketed! Yes, Provera is dangerous. I never prescribe it for my patients. But natural hormones are different. Theres never been a study to show any kind of danger from them. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies show that they actually help prevent breast cancer.

density by 7% in the first year, by 12% after two years, and by 15% after three years! Yes, thats new bone! Natural progesterone can help you rebuild the bone youve already lost. And natural estrogen is just as important. You see, progesterone stimulates cells called osteoblasts. These cells build bone. Estrogen, on the other hand, slows the activity of cells called osteoclasts. These cells break down bone. Osteoblasts and osteoclasts work together to keep your bones healthy. When you dont have these hormones, this process of renewing and rebuilding doesnt happen. With nothing to slow them down, the osteoclasts break down old bone tissue quickly. And the osteoblasts dont produce new bone tissue. The inevitable result is osteoporosis.

What to Do if Your Hormone Levels Are LowTo find out your estrogen and progesterone levels, find a doctor who uses bioidentical hormones. You can find one at When you visit the doctor, hell give you a saliva test to determine your hormone levels. This test will tell you if youre deficient in estrogen, progesterone, and/or testosterone. (Yes, womens bodies produce testosterone, too.) If the test determines that any of your hormones are deficient, your doctor can set up an individualized hormone replacement plan for you. I do this for my patients, and it works far better than a one-size-fits-all plan.

The Truth About Natural HormonesUnlike synthetic hormones, natural hormones are structurally identical to the hormones that we produce in our own bodies. Thats why we refer to them as bioidentical hormones. These hormones exactly mimic what your body produces on its own (or used to produce on its own). The chemical reactions are the same. Ive seen them work miracles on my patients. My colleagues have seen the same thing. And studies prove our experience. In fact, clinical studies have shown that supplemental natural progesterone increases bone

How to Reverse Osteoporosis Even FasterI hope that youre now convinced that higher levels of hormones are the only way to reverse osteoporosis. But now let me show you my secrets for supercharging your osteoporosis regimen. First, take a look at your diet. I know thats not sexy. But its vital to good


This Supplement Causes Cancer and Heart AttacksIve been telling anyone who would listen for the past 13 years to avoid taking a popular supplement. Thats right theres a supplement thats extremely dangerous. But no one wants to listen.

cancer and heart attacks! We know that calcium supplements suppress vitamin D formation. When you combine this with the fact that low levels of vitamin D cause cancer, and the fact that those with the highest calcium intake have the highest incidence of cancer (all published information), you see the connection. Calcium supplements may cause cancer! Well have more on this in future issues. And, since calcium does not go to the bones, where does it go? Several studies have shown that it goes just where you dont want it to go to your arteries. But does anyone listen? I hope so, but most people seem to think Im crazy for doubting the wonderful benefits of calcium supplements. Now maybe theyll listen.

Ive pointed out that study after study shows that you dont need to take this supplement. Very few people in this country are deficient. And the prestigious Womens Health Initiative study shows definitively that taking this supplement does absolutely nothing to improve the strength of bones. By now, Im sure you know that Im talking about calcium. And the news about calcium is getting even worse. It now appears that the supplement might cause

health. Here are a few things to focus on:

Make sure you dont drink a lot of soft drinks or coffee. These will leach calcium from your bones. You also need to make sure youre eating a lot of protein and vegetables. This way youre sure to eat plenty of the trace minerals that are so important to bone health. These include zinc, boron, calcium, magnesium, etc. Notice I list calcium here. While you dont need as much of it as most doctors say you do, you still need a little. And youll get plenty from a diet rich in protein and vegetables. Next, add the right supplements.Some patients are particularly low in zinc and need to take an extra supplement. I recommend 15 mg of zinc picolinate daily. In fact, the only supplements young people (premenopausal) need to take are zinc, vitamin C (500 mg daily), and vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical. Ive already showed you why. But theres more. Vitamin

D is actually a hormone, so you can see why its so important for your bones. Its so important that a deficiency makes you more likely to suffer stress or hip fractures, or other crippling bone injuries. Without enough vitamin D, once-healthy bones become thin and brittle. Worse, even thick bones can become so soft, they bend and break as easily as thinner bones! Vitamin D is stimulated by sunlight, so people in Northern climates usually dont get enough. In fact, several studies out of England show very clearly that during the winter, serum vitamin D levels are one-fifth what they are in the summer. And fairskinned, thin, blue-eyed Scandinavian types statistically get more osteoporosis than dark-skinned types. I used to think that people living in sunny climates didnt have to worry about their vitamin D levels. But every patient that I test for vitamin D, regardless of where they live, is deficient. So I tell all of my patients to start with 5,000 IU of D3 per day during the winter. Start taking it around


A study published just this last February (2008) revealed some stunning news about calcium. Women (and probably men) who take calcium supplements are more than twice as likely to have heart attacks than those who leave the stuff alone. The study was a prospective, randomized, controlled study. Thats the most convincing kind. The researchers studied 1,471 postmenopausal women, none of whom were taking calcium supplements. The average age was 74. They randomly assigned 732 of them to take calcium supplements. The other 739 received placebo pills. They then followed these women over the next five years to see the results. The results are startling. In the placebo group, 14 women had heart attacks, compared to 31 women in the calcium group. The use of calcium supplements more than doubled the heart attack rate. But it gets

even worse. The researchers found that heart attack wasnt the only problem. It turned out that there were 101 cases of strokes or deaths in the calcium women, versus 54 in the placebo group. Not only did calcium supplements cause twice as many heart attacks, but they also caused twice as many strokes and deaths. I call that astounding! So please, if all of the other studies out there about the dangers of calcium supplements havent yet convinced you to stay away from them, please let this one get through. A modest amount of calcium is fine (less than 500 mg daily) the amount that you get in your diet, or in herbal supplements. But please avoid calcium pills.Bolland MJ, Barber PA, et al. Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomized controlled trial. British Medical Journal. 2008 Feb 2;336(7638):2626. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Thanksgiving and go until tax day (April 15). Make sure youre taking vitamin D3, not the inferior vitamin D2, which is found in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Vitamin D2 is a synthetic vitamin and synthetics arent effective. If youre going through menopause or if youve already gone through it, you also need to take vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 reduces the rate of calcium loss from the bones by activ...