COPD drugs raise bone fracture risk

Big pharma loves COPD.

It stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. (In the old days, we used to call this hard-to-treat disease emphysema and chronic bronchitis.)

And big pharma pines over the 15 million Americans who have COPD because they make excellent, lifelong customers. It’s a hugely profitable market, as you might have guessed from the relentless onslaught of insulting and insensitive TV ads for COPD drugs.

But here’s the problem…

A brand-new study found a significant link between the potent, inhaled steroid drugs prescribed for COPD and bone fracture risk in older Americans.

For this study, Canadian researchers tracked outcomes over five years for more than 240,000 COPD patients ages 55 and older living in Quebec.

For every 241 patients taking a daily dose of 1 mg or more of inhaled steroids over four years, they found an estimated one “extra” fracture.

Doctors claim this risk is “minimal.”

But it actually adds up to about four “extra” fractures per 1,000 patients. And about 4,000 “extra” fractures per one million patients. And about 60,000 “extra” fractures in the 15 million COPD patients in America, all of whom big pharma is chomping at the bit to treat.

Is it worth the risk?

Not in my view. Especially when you know these potent inhaled steroids don’t even help treat the underlying cause of COPD. (Steroids never treat the underlying cause of pain either.)

Today, I’ll tell you about my safe, effective recommendation for curing COPD. (And it’s been around for thousands of years!)

Misunderstanding the problem

Today, COPD is the No. 3 cause of disease and death in the U.S. And they typically blame it exclusively on smoking.

But there’s a lot more to the story, as usual, when it comes to what we’ve been told, and not told, about smoking.

It turns out, COPD has a very clear genetic component. (Lung cancer also has a strong genetic component, as I’ve always have suspected.)

In fact, an enzyme called alpha-one anti-trypsin (A1AT) plays a big role in your individual susceptibility to smoke. This enzyme normally neutralizes harmful biochemicals caused by any kind of smoke inhaled into the lungs.

But certain genetic variants of the enzyme don’t work well. And people with this “defective” gene variant are extremely sensitive to moderate levels of smoke inhalation. In fact, they very often go on to develop COPD.

And we’ve actually known about this variant for decades.

In fact, I researched the A1AT enzyme as an undergraduate research scholar at the City of Hope National Medical Center with Dr. Jack Lieberman during the summer of 1974.

Meaningful insights go unheeded

We didn’t even need the big science Human Genome Project of the early 2000s to figure out this genetic cause of COPD. (In fact, we’re still waiting for clinically meaningful results from that multi-billion-dollar government project.)

This early and inexpensive genetic research we did in the 1970s should have led to a simple and effective screening program for the targeted prevention of COPD. In fact, you can screen for the A1AT gene with a simple blood test.

Instead, the government completely dropped any and all research into the real, genetic causes of the susceptibility to smoke. And it instituted mindless smoking-secession, behavior-control programs — some based on pseudo-science — for the entire population.

You might wonder why a deviant A1AT gene could even survive in human populations? As it turns out, the gene variants, in certain combinations, prevent cystic fibrosis and potentially even the pneumonic plague and tuberculosis.

But we’ll never really know — will we — with a government that believes everyone is the “same,” regardless of the inherent presence of different genes that have clear influences on health? Modern medicine needs to realize that it’s time to treat the individual instead of using a blanket approach, mindlessly, for the whole population.

This is one thing Western medicine has missed the mark on, but Chinese medicine got right: Everything is related. More on this in a moment.

Threading the needle to wide-acceptance of this COPD treatment

As I mentioned at the onset of this article, an effective treatment option for COPD has been around for a very, very long time. In fact, years ago, I wrote all about it in a Daily Dispatch called, “Little-known, safer options for COPD.” (This is a must-read for anyone with COPD. Especially during the upcoming season, when poor air quality and high humidity can increase your flare-ups.)

The piece describes the benefits of one of Chinese medicine’s most popular treatments: acupuncture. And since the early 1990s, it’s been an FDA-approved alternative treatment for COPD patients.

In Chinese medicine, there’s no condition that exists independent of the whole body. So, when you treat the whole body with a holistic therapy like acupuncture, you’re going to feel results for all sorts of unrelated conditions.

But western mainstream medicine has an outdated paradigm of health and healing. Since many doctors don’t understand “how” it works, they don’t recommend it.

Acupuncture has even been shown as effective treatment in other lung problems, such as emphysema and asthma, as I detailed in my May 2013 Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Ancient cure for COPD and asthma symptoms could make inhalers and drugs obsolete.”) Not yet a subscriber? You’re just one click away!

I posed this question five years ago in one of my articles on COPD and will ask it again today: Why are we still using dangerous drugs, instead of the FDA-approved alternative treatment that is both effective and safe? And why aren’t we screening patients to find the small proportion people who are genetically susceptible to smoke inhalation and really need help, so we could target interventions and leave the rest of us alone in peace?


1. “Inhaled Corticosteroids and Fractures in COPD,” Chest Journal February 2018; 153(2): Pages 293–294

2. “Widely Used COPD meds tied to fracture risk,” Health Day ( 2/13/2018