A study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that a single high-dose intravenous infusion of a drug called zoledronic acid strengthens bones significantly, as much as taking Fosamax for an entire year, and as much as taking a lower does of the same drug intravenously four times a year. Zoledronic acid belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates that help strengthen bones.

Your bones change all the time. Every day, certain bone cells called osteoblasts bring calcium into bones to make them stronger. Other cells called osteoclasts carry calcium out of bone to make them weaker. Your bones are strongest when you are 20 years old. If you lift heavy weights, your bones can retain their strength as you age, but as you age, the osteoclasts do more work than the osteoblasts, so most people spend their entire lifetimes losing calcium from bones. Some people get so osteoporotic that they break their bones with slight trauma and die from the complications. You are at increased risk for osteoporosis if you are thin, have blond hair or blue eyes, drink more than two drinks a day, smoke, do not exercise, eat huge amounts of meat, or are a woman who goes into menopause before age 52.

You can help to prevent or treat osteoporosis by lifting heavy weights, which increases the effect of osteoblasts strengthening bones. Bisphosphonates block osteoclasts from taking calcium out of bones, while they leave osteoblasts alone, for a net gain of calcium taken in bones. Fosamax is taken by millions of Americans each week to treat osteoporosis. However, a large percentage of people get stomach burning and belching from this drug.

If you suffer from osteoporosis, you can take Fosamax, Actonel, or Didronel. If these pills upset your stomach or you are in hurry to strengthen your bones, a single intravenous infusion of zoledronic acid will strengthen your bones as much as taking pills for a whole year.

New England Journal of Medicine, March 13, 2002

Checked 9/3/05

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