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April 4, 1990

New Doubts About Benefits of Sodium Fluoride

JAMA. 1990;263(13):1752-1753. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440130022006

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SODIUM FLUORIDE, one of the most widely used therapies for osteoporosis, continues to generate controversy about whether it strengthens bone. Data from recently completed placebo-controlled clinical trials cast further doubt about the drug's ability to prevent osteoporotic fractures.

Speaking at the Second International Conference on Research Advances in Osteoporosis, in Arlington, Va, Michael Kleerekoper, MD, head of the Bone and Mineral Division of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich, said, "If your desire in life is to simply increase spinal bone mass, then the answer to the question 'Does sodium fluoride work?' is a very resounding yes. It works better than anything we have. If your desire is to prevent vertebral fractures in patients who already had vertebral fractures, then the answer is an equally resounding no."

Three Decades of Research  Kleerekoper summarized sodium fluoride research to date, which includes a randomized, placebo-controlled study by his own group (submitted