Dr. Bart Clarke on Osteoporosis

This Medical Edge Weekend episode features Mayo Clinic physician Dr. Bart Clarke discussing osteoporosis.

Medical Edge Weekend 1-15-11


  1. Carolyn Thomas
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I’m interested in your comments on last month’s ‘Arthritis Care & Research’ report on the growing overuse of drugs and surgery to treat OA instead of evidence-based protocol like exercise and weight loss.

    • jstreed
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink


      Thanks for your question. Here is a reply from Dr. Clarke:

      I am not an arthritis expert, but your comment is well taken. Part of the reason you are seeing new drugs and surgeries recommended for osteoarthritis is because exercise and weight loss, while helpful in general, do not reverse or treat the disease. The drugs and surgeries offer benefit to those patients where exercise and weight loss are not enough.

  2. Liza
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    At 29 years old I was diagnosed with Osteopenia last year. I have started taking calcium supplements. How long do you think it will take to reverse the damage and do you have any other recommendations?

      Posted January 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Dear Lisa, in your situation it is crucial to exclude the secondary reasons of osteoporosis. Vitamin D supplementation is as important as calcium, and well-balanced diet rich in Ca and omega 3 And the most important approach in such cases is weight bearing exercise.
      Don’t forget to strength your muscles to increase bone mass.

      Sansin Tuzun MD
      Professor of Istanbul University

    • jstreed
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink


      Thanks for the question. Here is a reply from Dr. Clarke:

      Depending on how low your bone density was, it might take a year or two to repair your bones. However, taking adequate calcium and vitamin D, and maintaining good nutrition, are necessary for optimal health over your entire lifetime. Adequate exercise will also help build your bone density. At your age, medication for osteopenia is not usually recommended unless you are having fractures.

    • Carolyn Thomas
      Posted January 17, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Osteopenia is actually considered an example of ‘disease-mongering’- in which pharmaceutical companies who manufacture certain drugs ‘medicalize’ normal health conditions in order to convince patients (and their doctors) to take such drugs.

      In fact, osteopenia is a condition that only recently started to be thought of as a problem that even needs treatment.

      Dr. Angela Cheung of the Univerity of Toronto agrees, reporting in the May 2004 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

      “We do NOT recommend using drug therapy for the primary prevention of osteoporosis, especially in young women. The fracture risk for ‘osteopenia’ in these women is very low.”

      For more on this, including links to a report broadcast on National Public Radio last year, read: “We Never Imagined People Would Think of Osteopenia As A Disease” at The Ethical Nag: Marketing Ethics For the Easily Swayed –

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