World Osteoporosis Day
Osteoporosis occurs when the struts which make up the mesh-like structure within bones become thin, causing bones to become fragile and break easily, often following a minor bump or fall. These broken bones are often referred to as fragility fractures. The terms ‘fractures’ and ‘broken bones’ mean the same thing. Although fractures can occur in different parts of the body, the wrists, hips and spine are most commonly affected.
Risk factors for osteoporosis:
- Women are at a greater risk than men, especially women who are thin or have a small frame, as are those of advanced age.
- Women who are white or Asian, especially those with a family member with osteoporosis, have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than other women.
- Women who are postmenopausal, including those who have had early or surgically induced menopause, or abnormal or absence of menstrual periods are at greater risk.
- Cigarette smoking, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, low amounts of calcium in the diet, heavy alcoholconsumption, inactive lifestyle, and use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants, are also risk factors.
- Rheumatoid arthritis itself is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
- Having a parent that has/had osteoporosis is a risk factor for the offspring.
Three factors essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life are:
- Adequate amounts of calcium
- Adequate amounts of vitamin D
- Regular exercise
Vitamin D improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, but this may not be a good source if you live in high latitudes, if you’re housebound, or if you regularly use sunscreen or avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer.
Exercise can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Exercise will benefit your bones no matter when you start, but you’ll gain the most benefits if you start exercising regularly when you’re young and continue to exercise throughout your life.