Tag Archive | bone loss

Skeletal Deterioration from Radiation

Bone loss causes more spontaneous fractures in men and women alike that are being treated for cancer. So what is bone loss exactly? It is a disruption in the normal remodeling activity, with an increase in the breakdown of bone without replacement rebuilding. Normally bone is constantly being broke down and rebuilt, we tend to recycle bone mass each week at a rate of 5 to 7 percent. When this does not occur due to osteoporosis, hormone therapy in the treating of breast or prostate cancers, chemotherapy, bone cancer, bone metastases, bisphosphonate drugs and radiation exposure or therapeutic treatment of cancer; bone loss is the resulting consequence.

Cancer patients, most especially breast and prostate cancer patients are given what is known as bisphosphonate drugs. These are FDA approved to strengthen bones due to damage that has or will occur through the use of cancer treatments [chemotherapy and radiation]. Whilst the FDA approves of these drugs for that purpose there is strong evidence they actually create a reaction in the bones to allow spontaneous fractures. Experts believe prolonged use of bisphosphonates suppresses the remodeling and forms an insufficiency fracture of the femur, though they do not know at the point of the study whether all bisphosphonates drugs produced will have a similar effect on patients; yet patients are warned extended use puts them at risk. A Japanese study points out the characteristics of atypical fractures of the femur through the mechanisms of how bisphosphonates weaken bone structure. The mechanism of bisphosphonates reduces bone turnover by altering bone minerals and its matrix, causing an increase in advanced glycation end products of extracellular bone matrix, thus deteriorating the mechanical properties of the bone. Extended use causes an accumulation of the micro-damage to the bone reducing heterogeneity of the bone’s organic matrix and minerals. Simply put, bisphosphonate drugs suppress the natural production of new bone growth by substituting an artificial matrix that creates a brittle bone prone to fractures, many of which are spontaneous.

It is widely known that radiation causes bone damage as does chemotherapy. Using a drug that will further cause bone damage is not the wisest decision yet without patients understand the mechanisms by which bisphosphonates work and how they will create brittle bones, patients have no method of discovery. To save your bones from damage, bisphosphonates are not the answer.

Radiation – one of the most common methods to treat cancer, often combined with chemotherapy drugs. But is radiation safe? Will it affect your bones? The is yes.

Radiation therapy is delivered to a specific area to treat a disease, usually cancer. They try to kill off rapidly dividing cells, it is usually used with surgery and/or chemotherapy and study will often remark it is difficult to separate the effects of chemo from the effects of radiation. However, there is enough evidence shown when chemotherapy is not used that radiation can have detrimental effects on the bones as well other side effects.

X-rays, gamma rays, and other ionizing radiation is offered as an effective cancer treatment. Radiation therapy uses a much higher dose of radiation than does typical imaging tests, they are in therapy treatments aiming to kill cancer cells through high doses directly hitting the targeted cells. DNA mutations can occur to surviving cells, this can lead to secondary cancer. Short- term side effects can include skin changes, nausea, vomiting, low blood counts. Long-term effects vary as well; one major effect is bone weakness. It is also noted infertility is a common side effect for both male and female patients.

Rad, Gray, Rem, Sievert, what do they mean and how do they effect the human body? They are methods of measurement for radiation exposure. Rad and Gray are absorb dose units. Rem and Sievert measure the biological damage to the human body. Depending on the photons per second given Rads or Grays deposit a higher energy deposition in tissue or at a lower rate less deposition. For example: that a rad or Gray of alpha energy absorbed by soft human tissue does 20 times more damage than a rad or Gray of gamma, x-ray or beta energy absorbed. It is not necessary to fully understand the conversion of Rads to Rems or Grays to Sieverts but understanding little will go a long way in understanding the damaging effects to the human body.

The amount of radiation or the dose varies depending on the test or treatment. Imaging exposure gives you about a 0.1 mSV [milli Sievert] for a 2 view chest x-ray while a regular chest x-ray is about 7-8 mSV. A PET /CT scan can be as high as 30mSV. Often the settings are not changed for adults to children, giving children a higher exposure. Example: a stomach scan may expose the adult to 10 mSV yet the same setting would expose a baby to 20mSV.

Typically, a person will be exposed through ambient radioactivity, dental x-rays, airport scanners, and such radiation to about 2- 3 millisieverts. The annual exposure in the US for nuclear plant workers is 0.05 Sieverts, below these levels, the DNA repairing is kept up without damage to the body. Above this level and the body cannot keep up with the damage. 100 millisieverts is where cancer risk begins.

What is occurring in the body when the levels of radiation are far higher than what the government allows nuclear plant workers as a safe level? Bone loss or damage, and a vast list of other side effects:

Nausea and vomiting, epithelial surface damage, mouth, throat and stomach sores, intestinal discomfort, swelling, infertility, fibrosis, hair loss, salivary gland and tear duct dryness, sweat gland loss of function, lymphedema, secondary cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline, damage to the GI tract, pituitary issues, pelvic bone changes and weakening of the bones.

While most of the side effects are recognized and some dealt with, others are pushed off and often not considered or accepted as an effect of radiation treatments. The most damaging for the quality of life and sometimes life itself is the damage to the bone structure. Our skeletal system is our framework, without it, we are unable to fully function, enjoy life or live with any true quality of life.

2 Grays of radiation given to a human is about a normal dose of a single radiation treatment, a full dose delivers typically as much as 70 to 80 Grays. Bone loss was known in patients that had full doses but studies show that even a single dose can trigger severe bone loss, couple that with chemotherapy and the patient receives a double hit to their bones. There is a cumulative effect and this greatly increases the damaging effects. Bone health was adversely affected in bone density, thickness, spacing, and trabecular connectivity.

In a study done by James Ewing, MD [ 1866-1943] American pathologist, using radiation to shrink bone tumors, with surgery and Coley’s toxins, three patients studied were described that their irradiated bones became brittle and were easily fractured. Ewing noted he observed a thickening in the outer layer of the bone at the expense of the marrow cavity, as well as susceptibility to infection.

Peter Dedon [ Radiation Protection Committee at MIT, member] said: “What happens is that the nucleus of radioactive elements undergoes decay and emits high-energy particles. If you stand in the way of those particles, they are going to interact with the cells of your body. You literally get a particle, an energy packet, moving through your cells and tissues.”

Note: no mention of bone loss in above chart

Exposing bone to radiation may result in major complications, necrosis [cell death], fractures, severe changes in bone growth and secondary radiation-induced cancer. The tolerance dose for an adult femur is 38 to 43 Grays. The chart describing dosages of radiation says 20,000 mSV or 20 Grays is a targeted dose for cancer radiotherapy. Yet, typically, 80,000 mSV or 80 Grays is used as a dosage for prostate cancer, 60,000 mSV or 60 Grays for breast cancer, 70,000 mSV or 70 Grays for lung cancer, with rectal cancer at 50,000 mSV or 50 Grays. Remember, 2-3 mSV are considered safe. And over 100 mSV is cause for risk of secondary cancer. It is also cumulative.

The incidence of osteoradionecrosis or bone death by radiation at 70 – 80 Grays is at about 14-22 percent. When the femur, for example, can tolerate about 38- 43 Grays it is obvious why the incidence of bone loss is so greatly found in patients exposed to radiotherapy.

Pelvic bone exposure leads to hip and pelvic bone problems including weak bones and cracks in the bone. Often bone cells are damaged so they are unable to function properly, therefore, they cannot supply the bones proper nutrients, this leads to weak bones or if blood loss occurs from damage avascular necrosis. Tiny cracks can appear in pelvic bones called pelvic insufficiency fractures. Those that are older or also take hormone treatments will be at a greater risk

Bone density is decreased, osteoradionecrosis [bone death from radiation] of the mandible, pelvis, hip, long bones [ as in the legs] and ribs are most common bone damage from radiation. In children, long bones and spine may mature abnormally if the damage is in the growth plate. In the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA], it was noted in an article that 60- 200 percent increase in hip fracture rates following radiotherapy for pelvic cancer in women, of those breaking a hip the decline of quality of life may lead to death in approximately 20 percent of those cases affected.

According to Ted Bateman, professor, and director of the Clemson’s Osteoporosis Biomechanics Laboratory, “Past studies confirm that patients who are undergoing radiation treatment for cancer experience more fractures and hip fractures are particularly damaging to long-term health.”

So, pain results and quality of life suffers, doctors will suggest pain killers, bisphosphates [that we know will further run the risk of weakening the bones] and walking aids like a cane or walker. Hip replacement, rods and screws put in place by an orthopedic surgeon may be suggested. Is this a solution? Weighing in the benefits to the negative side effects, how does radiation rank?

How do we face cancer patients and tell them radiation is a good choice? What do we tell patients that have bone damage from radiation or chemotherapy? Do we give them methods to help rebuild their skeletal system? I think that is a step in the right direction. Is an alternative to invasive and damaging radiation treatment in order? And there is.

Do you need to discuss alternative options to radiation? Have you had damage and what to try to repair your bones? Ask someone at Jesicha’s Hope to help you. Contact us at www.jesichashope.org or email us at info@jesichashope.org visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jesichashope or join a discussion in our group www.facebook.com/groups/alternativecancertreatments















Oh My Poor Bones

If you have cancer then you may be treated with chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal treatments like Tamoxifen.  All these will damage and deplete the necessary nutrients the keeps your bones healthy and strong.

Many with cancer have their cancers metastasized to the bones. Doctors trying to prevent the cancer from adhering and invading the bones have sought to strengthen the bones. Often bones become weakened using chemotherapy drugs or having radiation used to treat the cancer, even Tamoxifen will weaken the bones.

Trying to stop the deterioration of the bones from the cancer and the drugs used to treat it, doctors prescribe bisphosphonates. These drugs are used to harden the bones. Often these are used for osteoporosis, now used for cancer patients.

So what are bisphosphonates?

Bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclasts digesting bone. Bone constantly turns over cells, a balance of cells is accomplished by osteoblasts that create new bone cells and the osteoclasts that digest bone cells. Normally osteoclasts undergo apoptosis, the normal dying off or cell suicide. When bone loss is greater than bone growth bisphosphonates encourages apoptosis of those out of control osteoclasts.

pill bottle

You are taking bisphosphonates if you are taking one of these drugs: Fosamax, Reclast, Zometa, Boniva, Aredia – there may be others. If you don’t know ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Before the use of bisphosphonates in medicine, they were used to soften water in the irrigation of orange groves. It was discovered they prevented the dissolution of hydroylapatite , that is one of the principle bone minerals, thus inhibiting bone loss. The problem is that after years of use the bones become weaker and fractures occurred. Other side effects noted were, femur fractures, esophageal cancer, osteonecrosis of the jaw [a condition causing painful crumbling of the jaw bone]. Other side effects, inflammation of the stomach, pain in the joints, nausea, and esophageal inflammation, to name a few.

But to build bone loss you don’t have to use bisphosphonates.

Strontium, in the form of strontium citrate, taken orally daily using 680 milligrams has been known to reduce the risk of fracture. The same study noted an 11.4 percent increase in bone density using strontium. The body has about 320 mg to 400 mg of strontium in the bones and connective tissue. It very close to Calcium and in fact uses the same protein carrier to transport it to the bones. When supplementing you should always separate your strontium and calcium supplements with a few hours in between.

For bones to be strong yet flexible you need proteins. Bones are rich in proteins, which as we age or when we are exposed to drugs or chemicals, like radiation or chemotherapy our bones lose proteins, we add calcium but like a piece of chalk, our bones can break because they are brittle.  There is absolutely no scientific evidence that taking calcium carbonate (Tums, and other OTC antacids as well as oyster shell, dolomite, coral calcium or calcium hydroxyapatite or combinations containing them, have any bearing on the incidence of osteoporosis. For good protein absorption in the bones, fats are needed. Perhaps that good glass of raw milk wasn’t such a bad idea after all, lots of calcium, fats and protein. The best source of proteins can be found in protein rich herbs.  One of the best sources is barley green [see below for excellent source]  A good fat can be found in organic dairy, avocado, krill oil, etc, will assist you in absorbing the proteins.broken bone

Building and maintaining our bones is not just about calcium or Vitamin D, we need things like Silcon or Silica to maintain the structure of the bones. We can get Silica in whole grains, green beans, even beer but all this does not give most people enough for our bone health. Silcon is needed for proper calcium as its job is to attract the calcium to our bones. Without a proper balance of silica our bones run the risk of fracture.  It is part of foundation; if our foundation is weak how can we hold up. One of the best sources of silica in its organic form is Bamboo Extract, research suggests 40 mg of Silica is needed each day.

Too much parathyroid hormone raises the blood level of calcium by releasing calcium from the bones and teeth, this over activity of the parathyroid hormones indicates a boron deficiency.  It is essential not to our bone health and teeth but an essential element to balance hormones, brain health, heart health, vision and other important body functions.

“The German cancer researcher Dr Paul-Gerhard Seeger has shown that cancer commonly starts with the deterioration of cell membranes. As boron is essential for cell membranes and boron deficiency widespread, this may be an important cause for the initiation of tumour growth.”

You need as experts claim an average of 3 mg of Boron daily and using a therapeutic dose of 6mg to 9 mg over the day.  It will help therapeutically to help with Lupus, arthritis. Fractured bones heal in half the time,  it helps pain, swelling and stiffness in the bones and joint.

Magnesium has a key function in numerous biochemical reactions that are necessary for bone strength and metabolism. This mineral regulates active calcium transport and might play a role in stopping bone fractures.  Most people that have bone problems are depleted in magnesium. About 60 percent of dietary magnesium is stored in the bones, while muscle and other tissues use the rest.

Vitamin D3 the sun vitamin – without it our bodies fail us, yet is simple to get an sufficient amount. Without a sun block, 10 minutes of sun exposure on your skin three times a week is allows the body to produce enough Vitamin D.  There are some that say 20 minutes of sunlight gives the body the needed Vitamin D.Most people in spite of the ease to which we can get Vitamin D are still deficient. Calcium absorption relies on Vitamin D,  Vitamin K is needed for Vitamin D to properly regulate. The best supplementation if you need to supplement is to get a combination of Vitamin D3 and K2. Some Organic sources of K2 is eggs, organic soy, meats, and organic dairy. There was a study done on rats where they had broken bones, those rats given a hefty dose of D3 had healed bones; the other rats healed poorly with uneven bone knitting. Most are told Vitamin D is a vitamin but research shows us it is hormone that is needed for repairing our body, without the proper level to initiate full repair we our bodies only do a temporary fix: the amount that the doctors claim is sufficient for a temporary fix, or survival, near 50 times that amount is needed to initiate a full repair response.

Have you ever seen those majestic trees used for ship’s masts?  Well those trees hold a key secret in how our bones hold together; while all these things we have discussed there is one element that we need to ‘glue’ them all together, keeping the molecular matrix all straight and perfect. Organic Sulfur binds and holds the structure of our bones together; binding them makes the minerals hold and work together to create and maintain strong healthy bones.


So what does it take to build strong bones?

  • Magnesium – chelated is best and experts agree about 600 mg to start
  • Vitamin D3 with K2 – organic sources best or balance supplementation These have to also be used for proper calcium function and absorption.
  • Boron – 3 mg generally – or 6-9 mg therapeutically
  • Silica – best source- bamboo extract 10 -20 mg generally – 2-3 times more for therapeutic
  • Organic Calcium – barley grass – excellent source –must be organic, just taking calcium doesn’t guarantee proper absorption, when you get it from an organic source it will have other necessary elements with it for proper absorption. Raw milk is another good source that has D and K included.
  • Organic Protein – barley grass  – has high amount of organic protein
  • Strontium – experts suggest about 680 mg on an empty stomach before bed
  • Organic Sulfur – binds the matrix of bone minerals for full bone repair
  • TENS therapy – this has been shown to help the rebuilding of bones to increase in as much as 2 times the normal rate.

For more information or questions contact Jesicha’s Hope  www.jesichashope.org  contact us at: info@jescichashope.org or visit our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jesichashope or join a discussion in our group: www.facebook.com/groups/alternativecancertreatments