Osteoporosis PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 07:07

ifuwom2Are you searching for what causes osteoporosis? You may be surprised to learn that many factors contribute to osteoporosis. For instance, a decrease in estrogen at menopause is one cause. There is also a genetic component. If your mother or grandmother had osteoporosis, the chances are higher for you to have it too.

Eating a diet that's low in calcium, getting little exercise, and smoking cigarettes also contribute to getting osteoporosis. It's important to know all you can about what causes osteoporosis. Then you can take preventive steps to stop this disease -- before it develops and you get a fracture.

Does osteoporosis start in childhood?

In childhood and adolescence, the body constantly breaks down old bone and rebuilds new bone. It does this through a process called "remodeling." During this time, the body builds more bone than it removes, and so bones grow and get stronger.

You often hear how important it is for women to get enough calcium. But it's just as important -- maybe even more important -- that kids and teens get ample bone-boosting calcium. It's also important for them to exercise daily to build strong bones.

When does osteoporosis usually happen in women?

For most women, the total amount of bone peaks somewhere between the ages of 25 and 30. It may peak even sooner for some women, depending on what their risk factors for osteoporosis are.

When the total amount of bone peaks, the tide turns. At some point, usually around the age of 35, women start to lose bone.

While some bone is lost each year, the rate of bone loss increases dramatically in the five to 10 years after menopause. Then, for several years, the breakdown of bone occurs at a much greater pace than the building of new bone. This is the process that eventually causes osteoporosis.

During this time, even though your bones may still be strong enough to prevent unusual fractures and you have no signs to alert you to the disease, bone loss may become detectable with a bone density test.

Does osteoporosis happen in men too?

Yes. Osteoporosis happens in men too. In fact, about 1.5 million men over the age of 65 have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis usually starts later -- about 10 years later -- in men. Still, osteoporosis in men is just as disabling and just as painful.

How common is osteoporosis today?

People 50 years of age and older, 55% are at significant risk for osteoporosis. In the US alone, more than 10 million men and women have osteoporosis. And nearly another 34 million are thought to have low bone mass. That places them at increased risk for osteoporosis.

What increases my risk of getting osteoporosis?

The rate of bone loss varies from person to person. But around midlife, bones become thinner. How fast or how slow you lose bone depends on a number of factors:

  • Whether you have a fracture after age 40
  • Your activity level
  • How much calcium you get
  • Your family history
  • Your history of taking certain medications
  • Your lifestyle habits, such as whether you smoke or how much alcohol you consume
  • The onset of menopause

How are menopause and estrogen related to osteoporosis?

Estrogen is important for maintaining bone density in women. When estrogen levels drop after menopause, bone loss speeds up. This can happen with natural menopause or an early surgical menopause if you have your ovaries removed.

During the first five to 10 years after menopause, women can lose up to 2%-4% of bone density each year. That means they can lose as much as 25% to 30% of their bone density during that time.

Accelerated bone loss after menopause is a major cause of osteoporosis in women. For women, having the strongest bones possible before you enter menopause is the best protection against debilitating fractures.

Can osteoporosis be prevented?

One out of every three women who lives to age 90 will break a hip because of osteoporosis. Men are also vulnerable. But there are many things you can do to prevent osteoporosis and avoid painful fractures. For instance, make sure you get plenty of calcium in your daily diet. You can get calcium from both foods and supplements. You can also check your osteoporosis risk factors and change those you can control. If you need them, your doctor can make recommendations about using osteoporosis medications.

A very important thing you can do is be sure you get plenty of daily exercise. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate the cells that make new bone. By increasing weight-bearing exercises, you encourage your body to form more bone. This can delay or even reverse the destructive process of osteoporosis that results in painful or debilitating fractures. By adding strength training to your exercise, you improve your muscle strength and flexibility and reduce the likelihood of falling.

Source: Web Md Sources-National Osteoporosis Foundation: "A debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated."; National Osteoporosis Association: "Osteoporosis."; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Osteoporosis: The Bone Thief."; National Institute of Aging: "Osteoporosis: Risk Factors and Prevention."



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