September 4, 2009

Buyer beware: No easy bone fixes

A U.S. researcher says it is buyer beware when it comes to postmenopausal women using plant-derived isoflavones to promote bone health.

We found that some plant-derived isoflavones -- soy cotyledon, soy germ, red clover and kudzu -- have a modest effect on suppressing bone loss during post-menopause, Connie Weaver of Purdue University says in a statement.

It's buyer beware. Some of the supplements in our study claimed to be substitutes for estrogen, yet they weren't effective at all or weren't as effective as some of the current treatments for osteoporosis.

Estrogen hormone replacement therapy -- the traditional osteoporosis treatment -- is no longer recommended long term because of links to stroke, embolism and breast cancer. However, the current main class of osteoporosis treatment drugs -- biphosphonates -- cause harmful side effects in some individuals, Weaver says.

This is a reminder that it's better to build up a good healthy skeleton than to rely on a drug to fix it later, Weaver says in a statement. Healthy bones can be maintained by a good diet that is rich in calcium and regular exercise that includes strength training.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the October edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.