Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that leads to brittle bones. Women are more at risk for developing this condition than are men. (It is estimated that one out of five women in America, who are over the age of 50, has this disease). Unfortunately, there is usually no indication that one has this condition until a bone fracture occurs. By then, irreversible damage to the bones has occurred. Preventing osteoporosis, therefore, should be a priority for women.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Though your bones may look (and are) solid, they are in a continuous state of regeneration. For instance, your body is constantly sloughing off old cells in order to grow new bone. When new bone does not grow, osteoporosis begins.
Age is the biggest cause of osteoporosis. Specifically, it is the sex hormones that are the culprits here.
For instance, when women reach menopause, they produce less estrogen. When men reach the age of 70 or so, they produce less testosterone.
Osteoporosis can also be caused by:
• Heredity. Like many other diseases, you are more at risk for developing osteoporosis if your mother suffered with it.
• Sedentary lifestyle
• A deficiency of bone-building calcium, vitamin D, and phosphate
• Cigarette smoking
• Alcohol addiction
• Anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders
Although there is no cure for this condition, there are steps you can take in preventing osteoporosis. The key is to know what risk factors you can control and which ones you cannot.
You cannot control your susceptibility to this disease if you are:
• A woman.
• Postmenopausal, around the age of 50
• Caucasian or Asian (these two races have been shown to have a higher incidence of osteoporosis).
• A woman whose mother had this condition.
• Have a small body size. Those with such frames tend to have a greater chance of developing this condition, probably because their bone mass is less.
Fortunately, there are many risk factors you can control:
• Smoking: Hopefully, you don’t smoke. But if you do, you should quit immediately.
• Sedentary lifestyle: Start exercising. Aim for aerobics exercises (such as brisk walking) for 30 minutes at least three days per week. In addition, you should include some strength-training into your fitness routine, as this has been proven to stimulate new bone growth.
• Alcohol consumption. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two alcoholic beverages a day. Alcohol appears to interfere with your body’s absorption of calcium.
Because there is no cure for this condition, you should be especially vigilant in preventing osteoporosis. Your health and mobility is worth it!