ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
CANCER
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
CAREGIVING
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
EYE CARE, VISION
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Healthy Living Adds Years to Life
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Add your Article

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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