WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Older men at risk for fractures from osteoporosis may reap the same benefit as women from bone-strengthening drugs called bisphosphonates, a new study suggests.
In this case, one such drug called zoledronic acid (Reclast) significantly reduced backbone breaks in men suffering from osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates work by building bone mass, the researchers explained.
Age-linked fracture risk doesn't disappear "just because you're a man," said Dr. Robert Recker, president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, who had no part in the study.
"We have ignored the problem in men," he believes. "Half of women over 40 will have an osteoporotic fracture before they die and about 25 percent of men will, too, so it's a substantial problem."
However, there are ways to reduce the risk in men, just as there are in women, Recker said. "This study documents this for one of the bisphosphonates, and it's likely that all bisphosphonates are also effective in men."
The new study, which was funded by Reclast's maker, Novartis Pharma, was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was led by Dr. Steven Boonen, a professor of medicine at Leuven University in Belgium. His team randomly assigned nearly 1,200 men at risk for osteoporosis to intravenous infusions of Reclast or an inactive placebo. The men ranged from 50 to 85 years of age.
Both groups also took vitamin D supplements (the vitamin is thought to be key to bone health).
Reclast was given at the start of the study and again a year later. Over two years, Boonen's group looked for fractures of the vertebrae -- the small bones that make up the backbone.
The investigators found the rate of fractures was close to 2 percent among men receiving Reclast, compared with almost 5 percent of men who were given the placebo. According
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