According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), approximately 54 million American have osteoporosis or low bone mass putting them at risk for the bone disease. Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone” and occurs when a person starts losing bone, their body makes too little bone, or both. When you examine bone tissue with this disease, you see the holes and spaces in the natural honeycomb formation of the bone tissue are much larger than in a healthy person. This is a result of a loss of bone tissue also known as bone density causing the bone structure to become abnormal. Bones then become weak and break easily, the spine many begin to curve and patients can actually become shorter in height.
The more you know about his common disease of the bones, the better off you will be. It can become quite expensive paying to set broken bone after broken bone and all of the related costs. People with severe osteoporosis can break a bone by simply bumping into furniture, a minor fall or even sneezing. Other important facts you should know:
- Osteoporosis can sneak up on you. Many are oblivious to the disease until they break a bone.
- Studies show approximately one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis.
- Common in older Caucasian women, the bone disease can strike men or women at any age, in any race.
- For broken bones with unusual circumstances, your doctor may recommend a bone density test, a simple, minimally invasive x-ray that takes 5-10 minutes with very little radiation exposure.
Know your risk factors
Protect your bones by knowing your risks. Although many are beyond our control, some other risks are manageable. Uncontrollable factors include:
- Being over age 50
- Being female
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Low body weight/small, thin in stature
- Broken bones or height loss
Believe it or not, the NOF states, “a woman’s risk of breaking a hip due to osteoporosis is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined. And a man age 50 or older is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.”
Unfortunately, menopausal women over 50 are the highest risk group. The NOF also reports that, “of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about eight million or 80 percent are women.” This is because women naturally have smaller, thinner bones than men. And, during menopause, production of the estrogen hormone sharply decreases and can cause bone loss.
Reducing your risk
Commonly thought of as an inevitable result of aging, we now know there are many healthy habits people can employ to reduce their risks. Take good care of your bones throughout life, create good lifestyle habits and preserve your structure so you will always be standing tall and strong. Start protecting your bones at an early age and carry good habits throughout life including:
- Eat a well balanced diet, high in calcium and vitamin D
- Exercise regularly: both weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening. Discuss with your doctor what levels are right for you
- Eat foods that promote bone health like fruits and vegetables
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day
Concerned about osteoporosis? Call 864.512.4160 to make an appointment with Dr. Kant today!