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New Use for Old Drug

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Women at risk of osteoporosis may get help from an unexpected medication. Nitroglycerin is a very old drug that is prescribed primarily for the chest pain called angina. It dilates blood vessels in the heart to improve circulation. Doctors have noticed fewer hip fractures among older women who use this drug for angina. Now a two-year-long placebo-controlled study has shown that nitroglycerin ointment improved bone density by 6 to 7 percent in the lower back and hip. The main side effect was headache, which affected about a third of the women using nitroglycerin at first. This reaction tends to disappear over time.

Nitroglycerin stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the body. This natural chemical slows bone breakdown and helps increase bone formation. In one previous study, nitroglycerin was as effective as estrogen in preventing bone loss after hysterectomy. If further studies confirm the results of the current research, nitroglycerin may represent an affordable treatment for osteoporosis.

[Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 23, 2011]

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4 Comments

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Might nitroglycerin ointment be a convenient treatment for impotence???

I cannot use any form of Nitro because I suffer from severe Migraine headaches. I was given a Nitro patch once and had a severe headache and throwing up for 2 days. It may be good for some people though.

Enjoyed reading this article. I hope this old remedy Nitroglycerin is topical? But then how will it help the bones or dilate blood vessels? Thank you for the very interesting and useful article!

I have osteoporosis at 46. My right hip is in extreme pain. I survived estrogen based breast cancer 5 years ago. This sounds like it will increase my estrogen levels. Would it increase my risk for cancer?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THIS APPEARS TO WORK THROUGH NITRIC OXIDE RATHER THAN THROUGH ESTROGEN. TALK IT OVER WITH YOUR BONE DOCTOR.

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