Osteoporosis, a condition that negatively impacts bones, affects more than 53 million Americans. This disease is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the bone tissue, which can increase the risk of sustaining fractures. Men and women can both be affected by this disease, but four times as many women are diagnosed with osteoporosis as compared with men.
The caring OB/GYN providers at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare are dedicated to educating women in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, about this debilitating disease and helping them learn how to prevent it.
What are the common causes of osteoporosis?
Although people often think of bones as unchanging, they’re constantly growing. As old bone cells die, new bone cells grow back and replace them in a process called remodeling. Your likelihood of developing osteoporosis has a lot to do with how your bones developed when you were young.
To predict bone strength, doctors look at your bone mass — the number of minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus — contained in your bones. The higher your bone mass is at its peak in your late 20s, the less likely you’ll be to develop osteoporosis. The lower the number, the more likely you’ll be to develop osteoporosis.
In addition to peak bone mass, other factors can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Here’s a look at the most common causes of this bone disease and how you can work to prevent it from developing.
Age and menopause
Your bones replace lost material quickly up until your late 20s. But once you reach your 30s, your body begins to lose bone material faster than it can be remodeled. As a result, your bones can become less dense and more likely to fracture or break with age.
Menopause, which typically occurs between ages 45-55, causes hormonal changes that can increase the rate of bone loss. While you can’t change your age, you can work to control the other common causes of osteoporosis.
What you eat can have a big impact on the health of your bones. If you don’t take in enough calcium and vitamin D, you’ll be more likely to develop osteoporosis. To help prevent osteoporosis, eat a diet full of calcium-rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, tofu, and almonds, and forgo processed foods.
Women under age 50 should aim for about 1000 milligrams of calcium each day, while women over age 50 should get at least 1200 milligrams. Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from the sun, but most people don’t get adequate sunlight. Consider taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement to ensure that you get what you need to help prevent osteoporosis.
Lack of exercise
Leading a sedentary or mostly sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst things you can do for your bones and overall health. When you’re inactive, your body stops spending energy on building a strong skeleton, which can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercise, on the other hand, can help build and maintain strong bones. When you exercise, your muscles pull against your bones as you move, which encourages your body to create more bone. Be sure to perform weight-bearing exercises regularly to help stop osteoporosis.
Smoking and drinking alcohol and certain beverages
Smoking more than doubles your risk of sustaining bone loss and increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. That’s because it inhibits your body’s ability to absorb calcium and other important vitamins and minerals. Alcohol use also increases this risk as can carbonated beverages.
To help prevent this bone disease, quit smoking, and eliminate or reduce alcohol use. Instead, reach for healthier alternatives, such as sugar-free gum, water with fruit juice, and sugar-free beverages.
Certain medical conditions
Some risk factors, such as age, are out of your control. The same is true of certain medical conditions, which can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. If you’re diagnosed with a condition that increases your risk, talk to your provider about steps you can take — such as lifestyle changes — that can help offset the risk.
How can I learn more about osteoporosis?
Your provider at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare will be happy to talk with you about osteoporosis, your risk factors, and the current health of your bones. Our practice offers bone density scans as part of our women’s health services to help you understand the state of your bones.
To learn more about osteoporosis or to schedule a bone density screening, book an appointment online or over the phone with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.