Combating Osteoporosis

  • December 6, 2023
  • 1 minute read

Osteoporosis is a common condition that causes the bones to become weaker and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures; even mild strains such as bending over or minor bumps can cause breakage. It is often known as a “silent disease” because it progresses gradually and without noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs. The most common sites of osteoporosis bone fractures are the hips, wrists, and spine.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone mass is lost and degenerative changes occur in the structure of bone tissue. The bone is a living tissue that undergoes a continuous process of breakdown and replacement. However, this process slows down after the early 20s and most individuals reach their peak bone mass by age 30. A person with osteoporosis may experience an imbalance between bone breakdown and the formation of new tissue. As a result, bone loss is faster than normal, making them more susceptible to fractures.

Unmodifiable risk factors include:

  • Age: The risk of osteoporosis increases as individuals age, particularly between 50 and 60. Women, after menopause, are at higher risk of rapid bone loss.
  • Gender: Women generally have lower peak bone mass and a smaller bone structure than men, which makes them more prone to osteoporosis.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal imbalances, such as a decrease in oestrogen levels during menopause in women, can contribute to bone loss.
  • Genetics: Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis or osteoporosis-related fractures are predisposed to this condition.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease, or chronic kidney disease, can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Modifiable risk factors include:

  • Low Body Mass Index (BMI): Having a BMI below 19 can increase the chances of osteoporosis.
  • Medication Use: Long-term use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids and anticonvulsants, may lead to loss of bone density and increased fracture risk.
  • Lifestyle Choices: A sedentary lifestyle, with little to no physical activity, may contribute to bone weakening.
  • Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake: A lack of calcium and vitamin D contributes to reduced bone density, early bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Alcohol and Smoking: Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking increase the risk of bone loss and fractures.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis as You Age

Prevention is key when it comes to osteoporosis, and there are steps you can take to maintain strong and healthy bones as you age. These include:

  • Avoiding or quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption, as these habits can weaken bones.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.
  • Staying physically active and engaging in low-impact weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or jogging, to help strengthen bones and improve balance.
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