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Osteoporosis Risky Drugs: Medications That Cause The Disease

There are osteoporosis risky drugs – medications that can interfere with calcium absorption or bone formation and eave us susceptible to developing osteoporosis.

A natural treatment program of vitamins and minerals will help to offset the bone depleting impact of some drugs.

Here are some medications to be aware of:

Steroids Or Corticosteroids

Steroids and Corticosteroids are the most common drug-related cause of osteoporosis. They are used for a wide variety of conditions, including inflammatory intestinal illness, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis as well as to suppress the immune system after a transplant. These drugs may be prescribed as a pill, injection, a spray or a skin cream. When used for a short time or injected into a joint or swollen area there is no effect on bone health, but when used for long periods of time (3 months or more) they begin to destroy the bone-building process. Some of the more frequently prescribed steroid drugs are prednisone, prednisolone, Medrol, Deltasone, Decadron, cortisone, Cortel, Celestone, and Aristocort.

Studies show that within the first year after starting corticosteroid therapy, patients lose an average 14 percent of their bone mineral content. Anyone on long-term steroids should have a bone density scan, use bone-building supplements, join an exercise class that includes weight training and possibly take medication to prevent the inevitable bone loss.

Thyroid Medication

The thyroid is a powerful gland that regulates metabolism. Recent studies in Canada indicate that 30% (over 10 million people) suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another... although as many as 50% may be undiagnosed. Long-term use of medications to control thyroid activity (hypothyroid or hyperthyroid) can seriously interfere with both bone-repair and bone-building health.

Antacids With Aluminum

These medications are used to treat heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, excess stomach acid and ulcers. Some of these antacids are salts derived from mineral sources, including aluminum which impedes the absorption of calcium. Popular aluminum-based antacids include: Aludros, Amphojel, Gaviscon, Gelusil, Kolantyl, Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan. Non-aluminum-based antacids include Alka-Seltzer, Bisodol, Mylicon, Rolaids*, Titralac* and Tums*.

The antacids with an asterisk (*) contain calcium carbonate, which helps with bone building when combined with vitamin D and other minerals and vitamins.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (Ppis)

Proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs) are a group of drugs designed to reduce gastric acid production. They are among the most widely-selling drugs in the world and are used in the treatment of conditions such as acid reflux, stress gastritis and peptic ulcers. There is a growing amount of research suggesting that prolonged use of these drugs can inhibit calcium absorption and cause osteoporosis.


Frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics, especially tetracycline, can impair healthy bone structure and function. Taking probiotics while on antibiotics and at least one month afterwards will help to protect your bones.


Anticonvulsant medication (used to prevent seizures) inhibits the liver’s ability to metabolize vitamin D3, which helps the body to absorb calcium. Phenytoin (trade name Dilantin) is the most commonly used anticonvulsant and Phenobarbital is also used. Since these drugs must be taken for a lifetime, it is important to use effective calcium supplements along with a healthy diet and exercise.


Diuretics or water pills increase the volume of urine and are used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Loop diuretics are a particular problem for bone develoment as they cause the kidneys to excrete excess calcium. The most popular forms of this drug are Lasix, Aldactone, Dyazide, Bumes, Diamox and Edecrin.

On the other hand, thiazide diuretics actually help you to preserve calcium because they decrease the urinary excretion of calcium. Hyrodiuril and hyrodthiazide are diuretics of this class commonly prescribed for mild high blood pressure, for water retention and sometimes along with other high blood pressure medications.

Heparin And Coumadin (Warfarin)

Blood-thinners or anticoagulants used for the treatment of heart problems can inhibit calcium absorption and bone-building.


Lithium is used to treat patients with a bipolar disorder- a condition marked by periods of euphoria and high energy alternating with depression. One of its side effects is the increased production of parathyroid hormone, which in turn increases the breakdown of bone.

Chemotherapy And Methotrexate

Chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin and methotrexate can prevent bone formation and cause a loss of bone density.

Some chemotherapy agents can also cause early menopause. Women who go through menopause earlier than usual (before age 50) begin losing bone earlier and can develop osteoporosis at a younger age.

The medication methotrexate is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and other immune disorders as well as breast cancer.

***Note that osteoporosis medications also carry risks. There is growing evidence of spontaneous fractures and damaged jawbones with the use of popular bisphosphonate medications such as Fosamax.

Taking an inexpensive bone building supplement can help prevent the bone loss caused by the above medications.

To learn about supplements that help to prevent osteoporosis caused by risky drugs... visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.