Combining osteoporosis drugs may do more harm than good, according to two studies.

The studies sought to prove that combining alendronate and parathyroid hormone would work even better than using the drugs separately, Instead, it proved exactly the opposite, researchers say.

Alendronate, sold by Merck as Fosamax, helps stop any bone loss. Parathyroid hormone helps to build bone.


The first study looked at the drug combination in 238 women with untreated osteoporosis. Some got one drug, some got the other and some got both.

The study, which was conducted at several major hospitals nationwide for a year, found "no evidence of synergy" when both drugs were used. In fact, Fosamax reduced the effects of parathyroid hormone.

The second study, done at Massachusetts General Hospital, targeted 83 men with brittle bones. It, too, found that Fosamax canceled the effects of the parathyroid hormone.

Women should talk to their doctors about whether to take Fosamax alone.


According to Katarina T. Borer, professor of movement science at the Center for Exercise Research at the University of Michigan, postmenopausal women who walked three miles fast enough to become winded, five days a week for 15 weeks, increased their bone mineral density by 0.4%. This can be compared with a one percent bone-density loss in those who walked at a slower, less challenging pace.

Theory: Intense exercise triggers greater secretion of hormones that may increase bone mineralization.

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