Sydney, Australia—The benefits of nitrogen-bisphosphonates go beyond just controlling osteoporosis, according to new research.

Two studies calculated that the medications also reduced the risk of premature mortality by 34% in a cohort of more than 6,000 adults, adding that the reduction in early mortality risk was significantly associated with a reduction in bone loss compared with no treatment.

Australian researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research emphasize that their results provide more evidence of the benefits of taking approved osteoporosis medication for those at risk of bone loss.

Background information in the articles notes that, after age 50 years, 40% of women and 25% of men will suffer an osteoporotic fragility fracture. However, the authors point out, fewer than 30% of women and 20% of men with fragility fractures are taking approved treatments for osteoporosis.

“It’s a common misconception that osteoporosis affects only women, and many people choose to not take recommended treatments,” said lead researcher Jacqueline Center, PhD, who heads the Clinical Studies and Epidemiology laboratory at the Garvan Institute and is an endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital. “But osteoporotic fractures are not benign. Osteoporosis medication not only decreases the risk of further fractures, but it appears that this same medication also decreases mortality rates over the subsequent 15 years.”

In an Osteoporosis International study, researchers analyzed data from a cohort of 6,120 participants over age 50 years who took part in the observational Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. Those treated with nitrogen-bisphosphonates—alendronate or risedronate—were found to have had a 34% reduction in mortality risk over the subsequent 15 years, compared with nontreated individuals.

In a follow-up study, published recently in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the team analyzed data from a cohort of 1,735 women from the first study. It was found that 39% of the reduction in premature mortality risk was mediated through a reduction in the rate of bone loss.

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