Thanks to a new treatment that includes the mineral strontium, older women who are postmenopausal and suffer from osteoporosis could significantly reduce their risk of getting spine fractures. While it’s not available in the U.S. — as of yet — its potential is worth discussing.
According to a review of clinical trials that was published by The Cochrane Library, researchers have concluded that strontium ranelate is a possible new anti-osteoporotic preventive for women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.
The drug, which is marketed and sold as “Protelos” by the French pharmaceutical company Servier works in much the same way as calcium does, seeking out bone, but its exact course of action is not fully understood. While Protelos has been, to date, approved in 53 countries for use, at this time it’s not available in the United States.
However, you can get forms of strontium other than stronium ranelate in health food stores. Note that their effectiveness is not known, however, as these supplements have not been put through proper and rigorous testing. For now, you may want to take the news in stride, and consult with your doctor if you think strontium may be of use to you.
In the review study, the researchers collected data from four randomized and controlled trials that focused specifically on strontium ranelate and its role in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Three of the studies looked at women who were postmenopausal and had osteoporosis, and the fourth looked at postmenopausal women with a condition known as osteopenia. This is a condition that involves low bone mass and carries a risk of bone fractures occurring, but is not as bad as osteoporosis.
What the researchers found by reviewing the studies is that in two of them, the female participants involved took two grams of strontium ranelate daily in order to help prevent the occurrence of spinal fractures. The result? The women experienced a 37% reduction in spinal fracture risk. This was over a period of three years that they saw a decrease in the risk, versus women who took placebo.
Also, when it came to fracture risk from osteoporosis in other bones, the two studies also noted a 14% reduction thanks to strontium ranelate.
So why are these findings important? Well, for starters, osteoporosis is a serious condition that affects an estimated 44 million Americans alone. Also of significance is that 55% of people who have the condition are over the age of 50.
In fact, it’s often a hidden condition. About 10 million people are estimated to have osteoporosis with 34 million individuals thought to have low bone mass — a precursor to the condition. The statistics are even more vital to women, as of the 10 million people noted, eight million are women and two million are men.
On top of the statistics, you can also add in the fact that fractures due to osteoporosis also take an economic toll on our society as well. In the U.S., 1.5 million of these fractures happen annually, costing the country’s health care system about $12 to $18 billion in direct medical costs. Hip fractures alone land about 300,000 people in the hospital annually and they often lead to disability.
According to the researchers who reviewed the trials mentioned above, strontium ranelate is a well-tolerated therapy that shows potential in helping prevent fractures due to osteoporosis. More studies are still needed on strontium ranelate, but the Europeans might be on to something. Hopefully more research of this nature will continue in the future, helping lower the already too high statistics on osteoporosis.