Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis – a disease which causes bones to become weak and brittle – causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually. That's an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide - approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.

Your bones are constantly renewing themselves, but do so at a much faster rate when you are younger. Most people reach their peak bone mass by their early 20s. As you get older, you lose bone mass faster than your body can manufacture it.

How likely you are to develop osteoporosis depends partly on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have "in the bank" and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age

There are no symptoms or tell-tale indicators for the early stages of bone loss. However, following the onset of osteoporosis and the weakening of your bones, you may experience the following:

·         Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra

·         Loss of height over time

·         A stooped posture

·         A bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected

You are more likely to get osteoporosis if you have:

·         Low calcium intake. Calcium builds strong bodies, as we have been told since were toddlers, and a lifelong lack of calcium contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.

·         Anorexia. People with an eating disorder are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Low food intake can reduce the number of calories and amount of protein and calcium ingested. In women, anorexia can stop menstruation, leading to weaker bones. In men, anorexia lowers the amount of sex hormones in the body and can weaken bone.

·         Gastrointestinal surgery. If the size of your stomach has gotten smaller, or a bypass/removal of part of the intestine limits the amount of surface area available to absorb nutrients, including calcium, your bones may have been weakened.

·         Taken steroids and other medications that can interfere with the bone-rebuilding process. These include meds taken for seizures, gastric reflux, cancer, or transplant rejection.

Poor lifestyle choices can also put you in a high-risk category for osteoporosis, and these include the usual suspects of excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and sitting down too much.