Osteoporosis Causes and Prevention
Fighting Back Against Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a risk to senior health that should concern you, but the good news is that there is a great deal you can do to monitor and prevent it.
Osteoporosis simply means that your body is losing bone faster than it is replacing it. Like other tissues in your body, bone is alive and is continually being broken down and rebuilt. The building up of bone occurs readily during youth, reaching its peak in your early 20s. After that point bone begins to be lost faster than it can be replaced.
Although bone loss is normal, there are several factors that can accelerate or worsen the process.
- Women are much more likely to suffer from brittle bones than men, especially women of Caucasian or Asian descent.
- A drop in sex hormones worsens osteoporosis. In women this may be due to menopause, removal of the ovaries or certain cancer treatments. In men, a general lowering of testosterone levels due to aging, or a sudden drop due to cancer treatment, may precipitate osteoporosis.
- A small frame can make either gender more susceptible to brittle bones.
- Some drugs can increase bone loss, especially corticosteroids.
- Low calcium intake, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use may all worsen bone loss.
- A history of hip fractures in one or both of your parents may indicate a genetic tendency to osteoporosis.
Fortunately, there are a number of behaviors you can control that will improve your bone health.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. No matter your age, the best way to maintain and improve bone density is to engage in weight-bearing exercise. The stronger your bones are when you are young the longer you will be able to stave off the effects of osteoporosis. Even at an advanced age, any activity that will compel your bones to support your weight will slow the rate of bone loss. Walking and dancing, or more vigorous exercise like weightlifting, are critically important.
- Maintaining a healthy diet with adequate calcium intake will ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs to replace lost bone.
There is no doubt that seniors need to be alert to the threat posed by osteoporosis, but it is one of the conditions related to aging that you have some control over. With a proper diet and exercise you can maximize bone health and minimize the chance that you will suffer a debilitating break.