ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
FITNESS
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble

THURSDAY, Jan. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of people taking widely prescribed oral osteoporosis drugs who develop a nasty jaw condition may be much higher than previously thought, a new study suggests.

Previous reports had indicated that the risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) from bisphosphonates in pill form were "negligible," although there was a noted risk in people taking the higher-dose intravenous form of the drug.

But Dr. Parish Sedghizadeh, an assistant professor of clinical dentistry at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles, said his clinic is seeing one to four new cases a week, compared to one a year in the past. This led him to investigate the phenomenon and publish the findings in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

"This is more frequent than everybody would like to think it is," said Sedghizadeh, lead author of the study.

ONJ is characterized by pain, soft-tissue swelling, infection, loose teeth and exposed bone.

Dr. James Liu, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at MacDonald Women's Hospital at Case Medical Center, University Hospitals in Cleveland, said the finding "does not mean that women should stop taking the drug if they're on it. It does mean that there may be more frequent side effects than was previously known."

Bisphosphonates are medications used to reduce the risk of bone fracture and to increase bone mass in people with osteoporosis. They're also used to slow bone "turnover" in people who have cancer that has spread to their bones, and in people who have the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

Use of bisphosphonates has been associated with other problems in the past, including an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (a type of abnormal heart rhythm), unusual fractures of the thigh bone, and inflammatory eye disease.

After searching the USC School of Dentistry's electronic medical records database, the study authors found that nine of 208 patients taking Fosamax had active ONJ, a prevalence of about 4 percent. All were patients who had undergone some kind of dental procedure, such as having a tooth removed.

Fosamax (alendronate) is the most widely prescribed oral bisphosphonate and has been the 21st most prescribed drug in the United States since 2006, according to background information in the study.

The jaw complication has been seen in patients taking Fosamax for as little as one year. It seems to occur most frequently after routine tooth extraction, the study authors said.

Although no one is sure why bisphosphonates seem to have this effect only on jaw bones, Sedghizadeh speculated that the drugs may make it easier for bacteria to adhere to bone that is exposed after a tooth extraction.

Previously, experts had thought that ONJ in people taking intravenous bisphosphonates was related to their underlying condition (for example, cancer) than to the actual drug, Liu explained.

The USC School of Dentistry now screens every patient for bisphosphonate use.

"As a school now, we don't have complications any more, we only have referrals," Sedghizadeh said. "We put patients on anti-microbial, anti-fungal rinse one week pre-operatively or post-operatively. If they have been on bisphosphonates six months or a year or longer, then we have a prevention protocol which has been very, very effective."

According to a statement released by Merck & Co., which makes Fosamax, the new study "has material methodological flaws and scientific limitations, making it unreliable as a source for valid scientific conclusions regarding the prevalence of ONJ in patients taking alendronate."

No reports of ONJ have been noted in controlled trials involving more than 17,000 patients, the statement said.
-Amanda Gardner

More information

To learn more about ONJ, visit the American Dental Association.



SOURCES: Parish Sedghizadeh, DDS, MS, assistant professor of clinical dentistry, University of Southern California School of Dentistry, Los Angeles; James Liu, M.D., chairman, department of obstetrics and gynecology, MacDonald Women's Hospital at Case Medical Center, University Hospitals, Cleveland; Merck & Co. statement; Jan. 1, 2009, Journal of the American Dental Association

Last Updated: Jan. 01, 2009

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