ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
EYE CARE, VISION
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FITNESS
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
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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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