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Study Refutes Cystic Fibrosis Bone Treatment

Recommended amounts of vitamin D don't reverse bone loss, study finds

FRIDAY, July 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- In findings that seem to refute recommendations from a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation panel, researchers found a vitamin D repletion regimen for cystic fibrosis (CF) patients "strikingly ineffective" in improving bone health.

The Johns Hopkins study examined the recently published vitamin D repletion regimen suggested by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Consensus Panel on Bone Health. Bone health is a major issue for CF patients and the vitamin D regimen is meant to maximize calcium absorption and improve bone density in these patients.

However, this study found that only five of 66 adult CF patients who took the recommended 50,000 international units of vitamin D per week for eight weeks (a total of 400,000 IU) had their serum vitamin D levels return to recommended levels.

Of the 49 CF patients in the study who started a second eight-week vitamin D repletion test utilizing a total of 800,000 IU of vitamin D, 33 completed the full eight-week course, but none showed a correction in their vitamin D deficiency, the researchers report in the current issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study authors concluded that the majority of adult CF patients have blood vitamin D levels below those recommended and the current repletion regimen doesn't fully correct that deficiency. The regimen may need to be revised to include even higher dosing levels of vitamin D, they said, and further research is needed in order to determine the optimal level of vitamin D needed for CF patients to maintain their bone health.

According to lead author Dr. Michael Boyle, about 20 to 25 percent of adult CF patients have osteoporosis and another 40 percent have osteopenia -- low bone volume due to inadequate replacement of bone loss from normal disintegration.

More information

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has information about living with CF.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, July 15, 2005
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