Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Drugs for pre-osteoporosis: prevention or disease mongering?

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 17 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:126

Rapid Response:

What is mean bone density?

I am a 56 year-old female whose doctor has told me my hip bones are
"not great" and my spine bone is that of an eighty year-old. He
prescribed Boniva, which I do not take because it made my bones "crackle"
and it seems creepy if the mechanisms and side effects are not well
understood (not unlike the issues of cholesterol drugs and understanding
all the actions of lipids). I have been taking SSRIs for decades, which
recently have been cited as potentially negative for bone strength. Now,
I am decreasing my SSRI dosage as well. So, sorry but FYI many patients
don't do what they say they do, or what they are told to do. Increasing
sample sizes may not take this problem out because when sample sizes are
too large, the error is so small that the study finds mathematically
statistical significance, but whether that translates to biological
significance is another issue.

My main questions are: could these research papers include the mean
when they talk about the standard deviation (and the sample size), and is
there a reference that shows the distributions in bone density at
different ages?

Thank you for all your the research papers, which are read by persons
in the public such as myself, in order to better understand our health
issues. I apologize for my ignorance.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 September 2009
Nadine L Lehmann
PhD botanist
self-employed 46383