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Fosamax, the osteoporosis drug, has been linked with some rare, but serious, side effects, esophageal cancer and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus and osteonecrosis of the jaw is a bone-killing infection. Fosamax is an oral bisphosphonate that slows bone loss, also known as osteoporosis. Typically, postmenopausal women take bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, but some men also take the drugs for bone loss. Irritation of the esophagus is a common side effect of oral bisphosphonates. Irritation of the esphagus raises the risk for a change in the esophagus lining, called Barrett’s esophagus, and that raises the risk for esophageal cancer. With osteonecrosis of the jaw, the nutrient supply to the jaw is blocked, typically after a dental procedure, and the jawbone dies. In some cases, patients lose part of their jaw. Until more is known about the link between Fosamax and these serious diseases, doctors may be more cautious in prescribing the drug to patients who don’t have serious bone loss, and dentists may be more cautious in performing dental procedures on patients who are using the drug.

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