Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications prescribed
for the treatment of allergic conditions, asthma and other
elderly patients take corticosteroids to treat chronic inflammatory
and immune disorders, despite mounting evidence that corticosteroid
use may accelerate bone loss.
Case in point: A recent study in the Archives of Internal
Medicine compared rates of vertebral deformities and vertebral
fractures between 229 patients and 286 control subjects. Patients
reported taking corticosteroids for at least six months' duration,
whereas control subjects reported no prior use of corticosteroids.
Results showed that average lumbar spine and neck bone mineral
density (BMD) were lower in corticosteroid patients with vertebral
deformities than nonusers with deformities. These effects
were maintained when adjusting for the effects of age, sex,
body mass index, and duration of use. Older age also proved
a significant risk factor for deformity: patients 70-79 years
old had five times the risk as patients 60 years and younger.
If you're currently taking corticosteroids (or any medication),
ask your doctor for more information on the potential dangers
before you renew that prescription. Your doctor can also tell
you about possible nonpharmaceutical options for managing
your condition. For further information on the dangers of
drugs, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/drugs/index.html.
Naganathan V, Jones G, Nash P, et al. Vertebral fracture
risk with long-term corticosteroid therapy. Prevalence and
relation to age, bone density, and corticosteroid use. Archives
of Internal Medicine, Oct. 23, 2000: Vol. 160, pp2917-22.