Millions of Americans go to the doctor every year for back pain, a cough, allergy symptoms, or some other routine kind of inflammation… And they come home with a week’s worth of prednisone or another steroid drug.
A major new study finds these frequently prescribed medications are far more dangerous than previously believed.1
University of Michigan researchers studied three years of medication use in 1.5 million Americans. They gathered data from health insurance claims.2
One in five people were found to have filled a short-term prescription for an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone. On average, they were prescribed 20 mg per day for a seven-day period.
Researchers then tracked their health for 90 days immediately following their steroid use.
Compared to people who did not use corticosteroids, these patients were far more likely to break a bone, have a blood clot, or suffer a life-threatening bout of sepsis.3
A Quick Round of Steroids Can Destroy Your Health
How dangerous are oral steroids? If you take them for just one week, here’s how they increase your health risk in the 30 days afterward:
- Sepsis rates are five times higher
- Blood clot rates are more than three times higher
- Bone fracture rates are nearly twice as high
All three of these conditions can threaten your life. Sepsis is a potentially fatal form of blood poisoning. It kills more than 258,000 Americans a year. Blood clots can cause strokes or heart attacks. Bone fractures are the number one cause of death from injury in the elderly.45
Even 90 days after you stop taking the drugs, the study found your risk continues to remain elevated:
- Sepsis rates are 2.5 times higher
- Blood clot risk is 50% higher
- Bone fracture risk is 30% higher
Dr. Akbar Waljee is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. He is lead author of the study.
He said that doctors and patients often have the mistaken belief that steroids are harmless when taken for only a week.
“They don’t tend to think about potential risks from short-term use,” Dr. Waljee said. “We see a clear signal of higher rates of these three serious events within 30 days of filling a prescription.
“We need to understand that steroids do have a real risk and that we may use them more than we really need to. This is so important because of how often these drugs are used.”
He advises patients to use the smallest amount of corticosteroids possible. “If there are alternatives to steroids, we should use those when possible,” he says. “Steroids aren’t as risk-free as you might think.”
The research paper recently was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Two Natural Ways to Fight Inflammation
Try these natural anti-inflammatory alternatives to steroid drugs:
Tart cherries: Eat 20 a day to reduce inflammation and pain. Or drink tart cherry extract. You can find it in health food stores and online.6[vi]
Ginger root extract: This widely available supplement eases inflammation and blocks pain pathways.7
Prednisone is not the only medication with side effects that put your life in jeopardy. We list others in our special report, The Top 10 Dangerous Pharmaceutical Drugs—And Their Natural Alternatives. It’s an important read for you and your family. Get all the details HERE.
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