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Bone treatment "weakens structure"

An osteoporosis treatment commonly used in the UK and US actually diminishes the quality of bones, a long-term study of the drug has claimed.

Scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center said bisphosphonates, commonly prescribed to treat brittle bones, particularly in the elderly, offered short-term improvement in bone quantity at the expense of long-term quality.

They claimed the mineral and crystalline structure of bone was impaired by the drug when prescribed over a long period of time, leading to weakness and an increased likelihood of fractures.

Brian Gladnick, from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), who led a similar study into the effects of the treatment said: "Although bisphosphonates have demonstrated an improvement in bone quantity, little if anything is known about the effects of these drugs on bone quality."

Findings from both studies were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting in New Orleans.

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American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons