Bisphosphonates may not necessarily prevent bone fractures in older women, according to a recent study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

This group of medications, of which alendronate (Fosamax) is an example, often is used to treat osteoporosis. The medications are designed to increase bone mineral density to decrease the risk of bone fractures.

Investigators found that women who took this type of medication for 10 to 13 years had higher fracture rates compared with women who took the medication for two years.

The study, which occurred over a four-year period, used data from 5,120 women who had been prescribed this medication. More than 95% of the women were aged 70 or more years, and they all had similar risk of bone fractures.

“However, the ideal length of bisphosphonate use has not yet been studied in randomized clinical trials, which are considered the gold standard of research studies,” said Rebecca Drieling, MPH, Ph.D, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford School of Medicine and the lead author of the study.

“Therefore, long-term bisphosphonate users should see their healthcare providers regularly to decide how long to continue bisphosphonate therapy in their individual cases.”