May is Osteoporosis Awareness month and in recognition, this blog will publish information on Osteoporosis along with material promoting bone health. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones gradually become weak and likely to break; the most common of bone diseases, osteoporosis related fractures most often occur in the hip, spine, or wrists. According to NIH statistics, more than 40 million people in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at high risk to incur the disease. Osteoporosis affects both men and women at any age but the most vulnerable are older women. Approximately one out of five women over the age of 50 suffers from osteoporosis. Certain risk factors predispose individuals to bone loss and osteoporosis, some uncontrollable (gender, age), some manageable (exercise). One study found that certain exercises used by patients at risk for bone loss after spinal cord injury may help slow down the progression of osteoporosis.
Risk factors you cannot change include:
- Gender. Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
- Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
- Body size. Small, thin women are at greater risk.
- Ethnicity. White and Asian women are at highest risk. Black and Hispanic women have a lower risk.
- Family history. Osteoporosis tends to run in families. If a family member has osteoporosis or breaks a bone, there is a greater chance that you will too.
Other risk factors are:
- Sex hormones. Low estrogen levels due to missing menstrual periods or to menopause can cause osteoporosis in women. Low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men.
- Anorexia nervosa. This eating disorder can lead to osteoporosis.
- Calcium and vitamin D intake. A diet low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to bone loss.
- Medication use. Some medicines increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Activity level. Lack of exercise or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.
- Smoking. Cigarettes are bad for bones, and the heart, and lungs, too.
- Drinking alcohol. Too much alcohol can cause bone loss and broken bones.