Drugs used to take care of feeble bones in elderly patients experiencing osteoporosis could possibly make them weaker, research suggests.
They uncovered signs the drugs were linked to microscopic cracks, making bones more fragile and prone to break.
Three million people in the UK affect.
Bone density is lost by some people considerably faster than ordinary, although losing bone is a standard part of the ageing process. This can result in a heightened risk of breaks and osteoporosis.
Bisphosphonates - the primary treatment for osteoporosis - are an incredibly successful and generally prescribed group of drugs that slow down the natural processes by which damaged or ageing bone is removed by the body.
But doctors have raised concerns concerning how many fractures occurring among elderly patients who've been taking the drugs for a long time.
To learn the team directed by Dr Richie Abel took samples of bone -fracture patients and studied them in the Diamond Light Source - the massive doughnut shaped Syncatron or particle accelerator in the Harwell campus in south Oxfordshire.
"What we wished to see was whether the bone from bisphosphonate patients was weaker or stronger than bone from untreated controls," Dr Abel explained.
"Quite startlingly, we discovered the bone in the bisphosphonate patients was poorer. That's a conundrum as the bone should be more formidable."
By bombarding the samples with X-rays 10 billion times brighter compared to the Sun, the team were able to generate pictures of the internal structure of the bones in detail that is unprecedented.
These showed microscopic cracks building up in the bones of patients.
"The drug is clearly working, but nonetheless, additionally, it leads to the build-up of micro-cracks in the bone and that could increase the likelihood of a fracture."
It's a surprising outcome, but the study was small along with the work is at an early period.
Even so, Prof Justin Cobb, a co-author on the newspaper, says the discovery raises important issues about how exactly we prescribe bisphosphonates for long-term conditions such as for example osteoporosis.
"There is no hurry, but we should think about how long individuals are taking them for, and how exactly we might track the development of these micro-cracks," he said at health forums.