It happened again today. One of my patients with osteoporosis called me about a machine that someone told her would potentially help her to improve her bone density.
I am constantly bombarded with information from companies or individuals who claim that they have a machine or supplement that will reverse osteoporosis. I have investigated many such claims and found them to be baseless. The so-called science usually refers to in-vitro studies. This means it has shown some promise in the lab working with cells in a Petri dish or perhaps 6 or so rats. This does not mean in that it will translate to human beings. We all love magical thinking.
Why do people believe the company hype? Because they make it look good. Often they will have top universities or a Harvard educated doctor who performed the in-vitro lab work. It looks scientific to people who do not understand how to evaluate the usefulness of the study.
Sometimes there may be multiple studies, but again a close look at even 10 studies on lab animals does not necessarily translate to human beings.
However, if any of you have increased bone density using a supplement or devise please share your story and your bone density tests with me.
Some of the devices come at a high cost. One such machine, the Bemer 3000 is quite expensive. A patient asked me whether or not this machine would help her gain bone. I went to their website and there are zero studies regarding bone density. If any of you think you have gained bone mass using this machine please contact me. I am open to the possibility, but I remain highly skeptical. Osteoporosis is a serious disease with multiple causes and each case is different – there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Another company boasting a product that will increase bone density is Nikken with their Osteodenx product – will this work? This is another very hyped product. In the next newsletter I will review what the company claims and if there is real data to back up their claims.
If you have bone density tests from a DXA (hip and lumbar spine) and you think you have gained bone with any program I would like to hear from you. We need to gather success stories. In the end most success stories will likely include significant exercise along with a healthy bone building diet. If you do plan on sending me your case I will need the computer printout of the bone density as well as the radiologist report. Keep in mind that there can be up to 5% error (or more) depending on how well the machine is maintained and how well the technologist positions a patient on the table.
My healthy skepticism started in 1994 when Dr. John Lee made claims that bio-identical progesterone would reverse osteoporosis. Many of my patients used the cream, including myself. I was the owner and director of the Osteoporosis Diagnostic Center and wrote all reports for the bone density tests of the low back and hip (performed on a Hologic 4500). I was excitedly waiting to see the increase in bone density using his program, which included basic nutritional and exercise advice. Unfortunately none of the patients showed a statistically relevant increase in bone density. Still, to this day I have not seen any evidence that bio-identical progesterone will appreciably increase bone density.
Do I want a magic bullet? You bet I do and there are some that come close. Correcting a digestive disorder such as Celiac disease or a vitamin D deficiency comes close. I will be offering a webinar in the near future outlining a sound bone-building program. Keep in mind that it is much easier to lose bone than to gain bone.
Send in your success stories – we all want to know about them and have them verified. I am qualified to verify such claims as I am a Certified Clinical (bone) Densitometrist – I read bone density exams and understand the nuances of testing.
Below is the evidence regarding treating osteoporosis with the Bemer device - from the website International Teaching and Research Facility (http://www.afb-us.com/cms/info-en0.html). The Bemer and many other devices utilize PEMF, Pulsing Electromagnetic Field therapy. While it may be useful for some ailments I am focusing on osteoporosis. In theory maybe there is something to it, but there is no evidence that it does anything to increase bone density.
A European physician’s user study under the direction of the AFB documented the effects of the electromagnetic field of the BEMER 3000 therapy system. A total of 1116 patient protocols were captured. Since several patients presented with more than one clinical condition, 2031 cases of illness were documented. A therapy span of 6 weeks and observation of 52 subjects (see excerpt below) showed the following results:
Excerpt from the physician’s user study with the BEMER 3000 therapy system
Dr. Lani’s interpretation of the value of this “study”.
This is a perfect example of graphs being used to illustrate virtually no useful information. Healing of fractures? How was this measured to make sure the Bemer had anything to do with it. The study involved 52 people for 6 weeks. Improvement of what? Can’t check bone density in 6 weeks. Would you purchase this machine to improve your bone density based on this information? I would not.
Is it possible that the Bemer might impact bone density? Very hard to know until actual studies that include before and after bone density testing, over a period of at least one year are compared.
Will the Bemer improve bone quality? Maybe but again, no studies.
The following is an excerpt from the Bemer company website: BEMER research has over many years achieved leading-edge results in terms of the biorhythm of local and external regulation flows in microcirculation. The core of BEMER technology is a multi-dimensional signal structure, which effectively stimulates restricted or defective microcirculation. Consequently, it supports one of the most important regulation mechanisms in the human body for prevention, healing, recovery and regenerative processes.