Anabolic Medications Make New Bone

October 6, 2014 @ 7:51 am
posted by Dr Ginther

Anabolic medication for osteoporosis actually increases bone thickness and strength!  Antiresorptive medications for osteoporosis (Fosamax, Alendronate, Actonel, Atelvia, Boniva, Evista, Reclast, Prolia) only preserve bone.

We have talked about all of the Antiresorptive medications over the last 2 months.  They are excellent treatment if slowing down the OsteoClasts (cells that eat away your bone) is sufficient.  That is not always the case.

Now it is time to talk about something completely different.  Anabolic medication stimulates the OsteoBlasts (cells that make new bone matrix).  OsteoBlasts can rebuild your bones.  If you have Fractures, your bones may need to be rebuilt.

Forteo (Teriparatide) is the only Anabolic medication for osteoporosis in the USA.  Close cousins of Forteo are available in other countries.

You may need the Anabolic, Forteo, if you have a hip fracture, multiple other fractures, or if VFA testing reveals a Vertebral Compression Fracture.  A DXA T-score well below -2.5 can be reason enough without fracture.

Glucocorticoid (Cortico-Steroid) medications (Prednisone, Steroid Inhalers) specifically supress OsteoBlasts (cells that make new bone).  Stimulating the OsteoBlasts with the Anabolic, Forteo, can offset the bone loss from Steroid medications.  Smoking also supresses OsteoBlasts, leading to bone loss.  Stopping Smoking would be best, but Forteo can help.

Not everyone needs an Anabolic, but some individuals do.  A Complete Bone Health Evaluation will tell you if an Anabolic is right for you.

More about Forteo (Teriparatide) next time.

Jay Ginther, MD

The Biggest Living Single Being On Earth

October 3, 2014 @ 7:26 pm
posted by Dr Ginther

The “General Sherman” Giant Sequoia tree is the largest living tree, and the largest single living organism on earth.  275 feet tall, with a footprint 36 feet in diameter at ground level, and an estimated trunk volume of 52,500 cubic feet.  Wow.

We were awed by the immense size of this and other trees nearly as large.  Photos cannot properly picture these giants.  You have to experience them in person. Even then they are difficult to comprehend.  Their cousins, the Coastal Redwoods are taller, but nowhere near as wide.

We saw the giant sequoias last week when we went to our son’s wedding just 4 miles from the Mariposa Grove of giants in Yosemite National Park.  The biggest are in Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks.  I had not been there before.  I am overwhelmed to have seen them now.

Humans caused serious harm to these trees by supressing natural lightning strike fires from the 1850s to 1970s.  The undergrowth began to choke the giants and prevented new seedlings from growing.  Although the most striking characteristic of these trees is huge fire scars 50 to 75 feet tall, they require fire to supress competition for water and nutrients. 

Studying the growth rings of fallen trees reveals that they grow the fastest in the years just after fire scars.  And those fire scars are every 5 to 13 years over the centuries before European settlement. 

Wandering through the forest in the company of these giants (some over 3000 years old) is truly a trip to the Blue Zones.

Yosemite Valley is incredible.  Kings Canyon is 1/3 deeper than the Grand Canyon.  So much to see of the natural world.

Jay Ginther, MD

Weddings Are Blue Zones

September 30, 2014 @ 8:11 am
posted by Dr Ginther

The Blue Zones emphasize the importance of family.  Few events are more family centered than a wedding.  Our son was married this past weekend in California.  All aspects of our Iowa family were represented, as well as my sister from Ohio.  We enjopyed our time together.

More important, we got to know the bride’s family better.  Despite differences in geography and distant ethnic backgrounds, we all hold similar values of family, faith, and purpose (pillars of the Blue Zones). 

We all knew that the bride would fit in well a year ago, when she helped, then not yet 3 year old, RJ get over the fact that attention was centered on his 6 week old sister, Gwen. 

The cycle of life moves on and we are enjoying it.  You should take time to enjoy your point in the cycle of a Blue Zones life.

Jay Ginther, MD

Goodbye to “Totally Natural” Vitamin D

September 14, 2014 @ 8:18 pm
posted by Dr Ginther

I was out at high noon (about 1:12 CDT) today, and may have made some Vitamin D in my exposed skin.  We had beautifully clear skies with cool, dry air and lots of sunshine.  I did not use sun-block for the few minutes of skin cancer risk.  Unfortunately, it was also only a few minutes of Vitamin D opportunity. 

Ultraviolet light is attenuated and eventually blocked by the atmosphere.  The lower the sun is on the horizon, the less UV light gets through.  In Waterloo, IA we are entering the 7 months of the year when the sun is too low on the horizon.  We do not get enough UV to produce any Vitamin D.

Less than half of Iowans, who do not take substantial Vitamin D3 supplements, have sufficient Vitamin D levels in September.  By early April, that is less than 15%.