New Study Shows the Dangers of Fosamax (osteoporosis drug)

Fosamax is the most widely used drug treatment for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. It is also available under the generic name of alendronate.

A new study has shown that women who have used the drug Fosamax are nearly twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation, which is the most common kind of chronically irregular heartbeat. The study showed that Fosamax was associated with an 86 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation compared with never having used the drug. Atrial fibrillation can cause palpitations, fainting, fatigue, or congestive heart failure. They can also lead to embolic strokes.

Fosamax works by killing osteoclasts – the cells that break down bone so that osteoblasts can then rebuild them.  The theory behind this drug is that if you kill off osteoclasts, bone will get denser but although this is true, bone also becomes weaker as a result.  This is because bone is a dynamic structure that requires the removal of unhealthy bone and replacement with new bone to stay strong. Fosamax does not build any new bone. It only kills the cells that break bone down, so your bone is not undergoing its natural regenerative process.

Fosamax has been linked to many different side effects including increased risk of ulcers, liver damage, gastric and esophageal inflammation, renal failure, skin reactions, hypocalcemia (calcium in your blood is too low), osteonecrosis (jaw bone death), serious eye inflammations and possible blindness.  Now this new study has also shown it to be linked with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

Archives of Internal Medicine April 28, 2008; 168(8):826-31

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