Posts Tagged ‘bone loss’

Osteoporosis: Not Just a Women’s Disease

Osteoporosis MenThought you were safe from osteoporosis because you’re a guy? Think again. Osteoporosis is not just a women’s disease. In fact, one in eight males will develop an osteoporosis-related fracture in his lifetime.

When you’re young, your bone is constantly changing—old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone is not generated quickly enough to replace old bone, leading to decreased bone mass and a weakened skeleton. This weakening, in turn, leads to an increased susceptibility to fractures. While more women than men develop osteoporosis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it still poses a significant threat to millions of men in the U.S.

Why do fewer men than women develop the disease? Men have larger skeletons—meaning more overall bone mass—and don’t undergo the same bone-loss-causing hormone changes that women deal with during menopause. Bone loss in men starts later and progresses more slowly. However, because men are living longer these days, osteoporosis has become an important public health issue.

While osteoporosis in women is generally age related, most men develop the disease for different reasons. Some of the risk factors that have been linked to osteoporosis in men include:

  • Smoking, excessive alcohol use, low calcium intake, and inadequate physical exercise
  • Chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines or alter hormone levels
  • Regular use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids
  • Low levels of testosterone

A “silent disease,” osteoporosis progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Those fractures most often are in the hip, spine, and wrist and can be permanently disabling. Hip fractures, in particular, are dangerous, as men who sustain hip fractures are more likely than women to die from complications.

In men, all too often osteoporosis isn’t diagnosed until a fracture occurs. If you have any of the lifestyle risk factors for developing the disease, or you experience a loss of height or change in posture, a fracture, or sudden back pain, tell your doctor. When detected before significant bone loss has occurred, osteoporosis can be treated with medication, improved nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. If you think you may be at risk for osteoporosis, make an appointment with your Emory physician for a medical workup and bone mineral density test.

Do you have osteoporosis, or do you know someone who does? How are you dealing with it? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

6 Ways to Stop or Reverse Bone Loss during Menopause

Prevent Bone Loss During MenopauseIf you’re a perimenopausal, menopausal, or even postmenopausal woman, this blog’s for you. You’ve probably heard that you’re likely to lose bone mass during menopause. The good news is you can take steps to help preserve and even build bone density before natures takes its toll.

Do these 6 things and you’ll enjoy stronger bones and better overall health:

  1. Eat Right. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and lean protein. Avoid sugars, preservatives, fatty meats, and refined grains. It’s also a good idea to take a nutritional supplement formulated for bone health. In particular, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, and vitamin K, which is essential to bone health.
  2. Strengthen Your Muscles. The best time to begin building your muscles is before you start losing bone mass. Exercise can help you regain bone as you build muscle. Even if you’ve already gone through menopause, you can still add bone mineral density with an exercise program. Non-stressful aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking, are great, and yoga and Pilates also help to build muscles and bone density gently.
  3. Control Chronic Inflammation. Injuries, food allergies, and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can all cause chronic inflammation, and inflammation in or around the gut can affect your ability to absorb bone-building nutrients. Sugar, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates tend to increase inflammation, while daily omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. Pay attention to how the foods you eat make you feel and control inflammation for better bone health.
  4. Get Your Hormones in Balance. Hormones fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause, and the jury is still out on how those hormones affect bone loss. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may or may not be right for you—that’s for you and your doctor to decide. But you can help keep your hormones in balance with a healthy diet, and you may also find that certain herbal therapies work for you.
  5. Be Mindful of How You Lose Weight. While maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to protect your overall health, be careful of how you go about losing if you’re overweight. Postmenopausal women who lose weight also tend to lose bone. This is where a healthy diet, supplements, and exercise come in again, to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs while you maintain and build muscle mass and bone density.
  6. Relax. Stress and worry only make bone loss worse. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone, and cortisol can weaken the bones and cause other problems over time. Yoga, t’ai chi, and other mind-body practices can help reduce stress while building bone and strengthening muscles. And once again, a healthy diet and exercise are key to both your mental health and your bone health.

Are you perimenopausal, menopausal, or postmenopausal? What steps have you taken to maintain or improve your health? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

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