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Your newsletter is a little late this month because I have been dithering about what to include. I promised you that I would discuss the latest flap over Milk as a Cause of Osteoporosis but this last month has produced so many NEW studies and I wanted to tell you about these. How to fit it all in?

So, I finally compromised.

You will find a short discussion about Milk as a cause of Osteoporosis AND 4 brief reports of some new studies.

IS MILK A CAUSE OF OSTEOPOROSIS? Some of you have asked me about the web sites and Internet postings that are are claiming that Milk is the cause of Osteoporosis.

I read the claims and as far as I can see, there are two main arguments made on these web sites:

First there is a claim that societies such as Mexico and Polynesia that traditionally do not use milk, have low rates of Osteoporosis but societies such as the United States and Sweden where milk is often consumed have high rates of Osteoporosis. Conclusion: Milk causes Osteoporosis.

The second argument says that Milk which has protein tends to acidify the body. Since the body needs to keep your blood at a stable acid/base ratio, base minerals such as calcium are pulled from bones and teeth to normalize the acid/base ratio after drinking milk.

So, let us look at these claims.

In the first argument, it appears that the authors are forgetting a number of things in comparing cultures.

First, there is genetic inheritance. People of Mexico and Polynesia tend to be short or medium height and heavy boned while the United States and Sweden have a significant populations of people born with long, thin bones. Every study related to body shape concludes that body type greatly affects the rate at which people develop Osteopenia and Osteoporosis.

Second,there is the fact that Mexico and Polynesia are near the equator. Inhabitants are exposed to more sunlight - inducing Vitamin D production. Much of the United States and Sweden are above the 41st parallel and studies show that inhabitants do not get sufficient sun exposure during late Fall and winter for optimal Vitamin D production.

Third,people in Mexico and Polynesia are far less sedentary than those in the United States and Sweden. Not only do they walk more but many are employed in physically demanding jobs and their weekend recreations are different too. Sunday afternoons in Mexico are likely to be filled with playing soccer or family walks outdoors - not sitting inside watching sports on T.V.

Finally, it is not just a lack of dairy diet that typifies Mexico and Polynesia. Residents eat more fruits and vegetables, less soda pop and far less highly processed foods.

A scientific argument drawing comparisons between cultures needs to consider ALL relevant factors and not just pull one characteristic and then claim that IT explains everything. After all, residents of the United States drink more coffee that people in Maylasia but that does not explain the lack of malaria in the United States!

As for the acid/base argument. There is much to support the notion that a highly acidic diet can cause bone loss. But milk is not just protein. It has carbohydrates and fats too.

Also, most people do not just drink milk. Milk is usually taken with fruit or with full meal that includes fruit or salad. These can offset any problems with the base/acid ratio. There is probably more damage done from drinking soda pop with its high phosphorous and caffeine than could ever be done from a glass of milk. Why single out milk? After all eggs and beef have lots of protein too but these sites are not claiming that eggs cause Osteoporosis.

Finally, there are a number of studies of adolescence that show that those who drink milk, tend to have greater bone density than those who do not. So, it appears that the recent rash of "milk causes of Osteoporosis" claims are short on accurate scientific reasoning. And I would be cautious about believing them....unless they come up with better scientific evidence.


1. A NEW NATURAL TREATMENT FOR BONE LOSS AFTER AGE 35. In its May 15th issue, the Journal Lipid Research gives a study from the University of Texas in Austin that shows Conjugated Linoleic acid [CLA] inhibits osteoclastogenesis by modulating RANKL signaling.

This is important news since Osteoclasts are what remove bone and if these cells can be inhibited it means the less bone is removed. [Remember that Fosomax, Boniva and Actonel are effective because they inhibit Osteoclasts.) AND CLA is a natural substance - not a prescription drug. You can even buy it for $10 - $12 from the Vitacost link on the Osteopenia Products page of the web site!

2. DID YOU KNOW THAT OSTEOPENIA PRODUCES AS MANY FRAGILITY FRACTURES AS OSTEOPOROSIS? A report in the May 13 issue of Osteoprosis International states that half of the fragility fractures occur in women with Osteopenia! This means that Osteopenia produces the same fracture risk as Osteoporosis in women.

All the more reason to do balance exercises at least twice a week since these have been proven to reduce fall in those over age 40.

3. A COMPARISON OF LASOFOXIFEN AND RALOXIFENE PRODUCES SURPRISING RESULTS. Last month a study was published in the journal Menopause that reviewed a 2 year comparison study of lasofoxifene and raloxifene. Lasofoxifene produced better results in spinal BMD and similar results in hip BMD. Also, lasofoxifene proved twice as effective in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol as raloxifene. The article is in the May 25 issue of Menopause if you want to bring it to the attention of your health care provider.

4. NEW TREATMENT UNDER STUDY IN SWITZERLAND. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2006 June. A study from Switzerland shows that Denosumab leads to sustained 80-90% reduction of bone resorption markers, much better that achieved with Bisphosphonates (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax). It should be interesting to see whether they will find that in Denosumab's anti-fracture efficacy is as great as or better than the bisphosphonates. This is a study worth watching and I shall try to follow the research and tell you of new results. It could be useful for those not wanting to use one of the bisphosphonates!

There, I managed to 'get it all in'. Next month will be our First Anniversary issue of Osteopenia Updates. I hope to make it a special one. .

So until July, do work at your balance and strength training. Oh, and do consider rereading the Osteopenia Treatments page and its links once again. We all need encouragement to keep up our bone strengthening program!