Complementary therapies for reducing the risk of osteoporosis in patients receiving luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone treatment/orchiectomy for prostate cancer: a review and assessment of the need for more research

Urology. 2002 Apr;59(4 Suppl 1):34-40. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(01)01174-8.


Osteoporosis in women has received a substantial amount of attention, but its impact in men is also significant and noteworthy. Those men who benefit from treatment for prostate cancer with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) may also be at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Pharmacologic approaches to reduce this risk have received some attention. For example, agents such as bisphosphonates, estrogen receptor-binding drugs (diethylstilbestrol, tamoxifen, and raloxifene), calcitonin, and fluoride are some of the more promising interventions that have been previously outlined. In addition, statin drugs, or hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, have recently been hypothesized to lower osteoporosis risk. However, complementary therapies, which may also have an impact on reducing osteoporosis risk, have not received attention. Dietary and supplemental calcium and vitamin D have been shown, in some preliminary investigations, to maintain bone density in women and men. Numerous healthy and affordable dietary sources of this mineral and vitamin exist, and large intakes can be realistically achieved through proper education. Similarly, the supplemental dosages required to impact risk have been moderate, appear to be safe, are of low cost, and thus may provide an additional route for reducing risk, especially if these interventions are initiated at the start of medical treatment. More studies in men receiving ADT are needed because the existing work has mostly focused on men without castrate levels of male hormone. Additionally, many studies with conventional and nonconventional agents have only focused on individuals with baseline osteoporosis, rather than normal bone mineral densities or osteopenia. Other promising complementary therapies, such as weight-bearing exercise and abstaining from smoking, may also be of benefit. Newer estrogenic-type supplements (eg, ipriflavone) appear interesting and have some preliminary data, but more research is desperately required to determine their actual impact and potential for adverse effects (such as lymphocytopenia from a recent trial). Simple, inexpensive, and potentially effective dietary and supplemental approaches to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in men exist, and they should be discussed with patients. Whether these approaches effectively reduce the risk of osteoporosis in men receiving androgen ablation remains to be determined. The possibility is intriguing, and future research is needed. In the meantime, it is important to keep in mind that these complementary approaches are, at the very least, an integral part of the conventional options used today to the reduce the risk of osteoporosis in men and women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / adverse effects
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / administration & dosage
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orchiectomy / adverse effects
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Risk
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Isoflavones
  • Vitamin D
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • ipriflavone
  • Calcium