"... osteoporosis is being increasingly recognized in patients with SLE," Dr. Swan S. Yeap, of the
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, and colleagues. Yeap's team assessed changes over 2 years in bone mineral density
(BMD) in 98 premenopausal women with SLE on long-term steroid therapy.
Some were taking calcium only, some calcium plus calcitriol (the active form of vitamin D) and
some calcium plus the bone-strengthening drug alendronate (Fosamax).
Women taking calcium plus alendronate saw significant increases in BMD at both the lumbar spine and
hip. In contrast, there were no significant changes found in the calcium-only and the calcium plus calcitic groups,
except for a 0.93 percent reduction in hip BMD in the calcium-only group. In premenopausal women taking steroids for SLE,
the researchers conclude, bone mineral density can be preserved or increased.