Osteitis deformans (Paget’s disease)Patient friendly summary

  •  There is no direct evidence that sunlight reduces the risk of Paget’s disease.
  • Vitamin D may lower the risk of Paget’s disease by limiting the risk of viral infections.
  • Vitamin D and calcium supplements may reduce some of the pain and discomfort associated with Paget’s disease.

Bones are living tissues that continuously rebuild. Paget’s disease of the bone (PD) alters the way bones break down and rebuild.

Many people with Paget’s disease have no symptoms. Others have pain, bone fractures, and bone deformities. The pelvis, skull, spine, and legs are most affected.

Paget’s disease progresses slowly. It can be managed with medications and sometimes surgery.

Risk factors

Paget’s disease may be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Viruses may trigger the disease. One possible cause is the paramyxovirus. It causes mumps and measles. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may also play a role. This virus causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants and children.

Sunlight exposure and Paget’s disease risk

There is no evidence that low sunlight exposure is a risk factor for developing Paget’s disease. However, solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) light can produce vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones.

Vitamin D and Paget’s disease

Vitamin D levels

A study in Australia found that people with severe Paget’s disease had lower vitamin D blood levels.

How vitamin D works  

Vitamin D enhances the immune system by producing cathelicidin and defensins. These proteins have antimicrobial effects to combat bacteria and perhaps viruses. Vitamin D also strengthens the immune system by reducing the inflammatory response to viral infections. Vitamin D may reduce the risk of the paramyxovirus. However, paramyxovirus generally occurs early in life. Vitamin D also has the ability to lower RSV risk. In addition, there is evidence that vitamin D may reduce the risk of childhood viral respiratory infections.

Prevention

If indeed Paget’s disease is triggered by a virus, then vitamin D would be beneficial, possibly to reduce risk or severity of Paget’s disease.

Vitamin D and calcium

People with Paget’s disease may have lower calcium blood levels, which could result in weaker bones.

Treatment

Bisphosphonates are medications that retain calcium in the bones. This treatment is often used with Paget’s disease. However, biphosphonates can lead to low blood levels of both vitamin D and calcium. While taking this medication, it is important to measure vitamin D and calcium blood levels. If the levels are low, supplements of both might be used or increased.

Based on findings for other diseases, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) intake or production should be 1000–4000 international units (IU) (25-100 mcg)/day. Vitamin D3 is a form of vitamin D. Blood levels of vitamin D should be above 30–40 ng/mL (75–100 nmol/L).

Find out more…

We will be adding a detailed evidence summary on this topic in the near future.  Please check back soon to find out more.

Page last edited: 17 May 2011