Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Does Bone Loss relate to Breast Cancer?

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Bone-building drugs such as Merck & Co.’s Fosamax, Novartis AG’s Zometa and Roche Holding AG’s Boniva may cut older women’s risk of breast cancer, according to two studies presented today at a medical meeting in San Antonio. See the entire Bloomberg article here. The AP article on the subject appeared in yesterday's Miami Herald here.

The link between healthy bones and cancer is suggested in this statement by Susan E. Brown, PhD, an anthropologist who first became interested in bone health, according to her bio, when her grandmother died at age 102 from complications of a hip fracture. Here is what Dr. Brown says, in part, on her website Better Bones:

An underlying metabolic acidity is a common denominator among — and a likely contributing factor to — all degenerative and autoimmune diseases. An acid condition has several adverse effects on cell metabolism, including impaired energy production, fluid accumulation and edema, and a likely increase in free radical production. Interesting enough, kidney specialists working with acid-base balance now recognize that most Americans, as they age, live in chronic, low–grade metabolic acidosis. This condition contributes to a series of health problems, including loss of bone mineral, loss of muscle mass, a reduction in growth hormone, and the development of kidney stones.

I have been reading some about the importance of the alkaline-acid balance in one's body and have discussed the matter with Mary. According to what I read, the body needs to maintain a roughly neutral pH or slightly alkaline status. Where the pH moves to the acidic side, then the body must buffer that condition to bring the body back to a healthy pH. The body does so in several ways, but two of them involve muscle loss and bone loss, as the body somehow extracts from those (and other) organs the compounds that will buffer the acidity. If one's body is chronically out of balance on the acid side, then the stress on one's system to fight back to normalcy could break down its ability to fight disease generally, not to mention permanently weaken bones and muscles.

According to what I have been able to understand about the "bone-building drugs" mentioned in these articles, they retard or protect the bones from the process of breakdown. Does that breakdown have its source in the body's pH being acidic in the first place, and is the cancer-prevention mechanism involved with these drugs mainly one of restoring the alkaline-acid balance?

What one eats has a huge impact on the acid-alkaline balance, according to Dr. Brown. Are we surprised that fruits and vegetables produce an alkaline response, where meat and dairy produce an acidic response? Could what one eats affect his or her risks of osteoporosis and cancer? In her book The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Foods & Their Effect on pH Levels, Dr. Brown writes that those on the typical America diet are in a chronic states of acidosis, the condition of being on the wrong side of the alkaline/acid balance.

Dr. Brown, by the way, seriously (and, to me, convincingly) questions the use of such drugs as Fasomax to treat osteoporosis.


Susan Brown Ph.D., CNS said...

Hi Paul,for updates on my work
you might want to sign up to my bi-monthely "Osteo Blast" bone health e-mail newsletter. Susan Brown,Ph.D. www,

Paul Stokes said...

Thank you, Dr. Brown. And thanks for your great work in this area. I will subscribe to your newsletter. The "Mary" to whom I refer in my post is a first-year med student at the U. of Rochester and my daughter.