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"Women who are taking these drugs should reconsider the options," said lead researcher Dr. Yoon Loke, a clinical senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, in a recent press release.
About 4 million people in the United States take these drugs, which are in a class called thiazolidinediones. Recent studies have also suggested that Avandia increases the risk for heart failure, death, and heart attack, findings that have resulted in new FDA-ordered warning labels about the drug.
Loke's team evaluated 10 trials that included 13,715 diabetics taking Avandia, Actos, or neither. They found that the two drugs reduced bone density in the spine and hips. According to their estimates, this loss of bone density doubles the risk of fractures in women taking either drug.
No effect on bone density among men was seen in any of the studies the researchers analyzed.
Loke speculated in the press release that women are affected because of an interaction between the drugs and estrogen, which weakens bones in women.
GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Avandia, said in a press release that this study merely reiterates information that is already known and printed on Avandia's label.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.