Closeup of man getting ready to take a pill with water

The commonly used osteoporosis drug alendronate (Fosamax) may help at-risk patients stave off type 2 diabetes, a nationwide study in Denmark has found.

The findings, which must be confirmed in a randomized, controlled trial, also hint that the longer the drug is used and the more compliant the patient, the lower the odds of contracting the chronic metabolic disease, according to medical news outlet MedScape.

Investigators examined health registry data of participants aged 50 years and older from 2008 to 2018. Those who were taking alendronate were 36% less likely to have new-onset type 2 diabetes than their peers who did not take the drug. And after eight years of alendronate use, the risk fell to 50%, reported Rikke Viggers, M.D., a Ph.D. student at Aalborg University in Denmark.

The findings may have clinical implications, she and her colleagues said in a presentation at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2021 Annual Meeting last week. 

“We believe that doctors should consider this when prescribing osteoporosis drugs to those with prediabetes or at high risk of type 2 diabetes,” Viggers said.

The results were controlled for multiple risk factors but do not prove causality, she cautioned. The researchers remain uncertain about the mechanisms underlying their findings. 

“It could be a direct effect on peripheral tissues, for example, muscle and adipose [fat] tissue or an indirect effect through bone metabolites that may impact glucose metabolism,” Viggers said.

An abstract can be accessed here.