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A new study, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests the drug levothyroxine, used to treat thyroid problems, has been linked to an increased risk of fracture in older patients.

The study analyzed data on more than 210,000 users of levothyroxine age 70 and older. Researchers were looking for fractures in the wrist, forearm, shoulder, upper arm, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, pelvis, hip or femur – common areas for fractures linked to bone-thinning.

How long patients had taken the drug – and at what dose – was also noted by researchers. They also adjusted for risk factors that might affect the rate of fractures.

It appears, current users, are at a significantly greater risk for fractures than those who had discontinued use of the drug more than 180 days prior to the start of the study.

"As the authors conclude, it is important to monitor thyroid blood tests — especially TSH levels — to prevent this potential adverse health burden."

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