Osteoporosis makes the bones so fragile and brittle that sometimes even innocent actions, such as coughing, can result in breakage and permanent disability.
When diagnosing osteoporosis, a major problem for doctors is that it lasts for a long time without any symptoms. But that does not mean that we can not take action, know the risks and reduce them – at least wherever possible.
Some of the risks for the development of osteoporosis do not depend on us in any way. These include:
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Age – With its advances, the risks of osteoporosis increase.
- Ethnic and racial affiliation – Statistics show that the risk of osteoporosis is higher for people of Asian origin (applies to the whole of Asia).
- Family history – the presence of a relative, whether close or distant, who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, could be an indicator of increased risk.
- Body shape – both women and men with a smaller body figure are more prone to age-related osteoporosis, as they generally have a lower bone mass and bone density.
Different hormone levels
Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in people (regardless of gender) who have high or low levels of certain hormones like:
- Sex hormones – lower than normal levels of these hormones leads to weakening of the bones. The reduction of estrogen in women during menopause is one of the major risk factors for the occurrence of osteoporosis. In men, the same indicator is the age-related decrease in testosterone levels. Lower estrogen and testosterone levels can be observed also in the treatment of breast and prostate cancer.
- Thyroid hormones – higher than normal amount of thyroid hormones also increases the risk of osteoporosis. Such high levels of these hormones can be as a result of thyroid overactivity or because of a given treatment due to its reduced function.
- Other glands – osteoporosis is associated with excessive activity of the parathyroid and adrenal glands.
Factors related to our diet
Osteoporosis is more likely to develop in people with:
- Decreased calcium intake – low calcium for a prolonged period has a leading role in the occurrence of osteoporosis.
- Eating problems – frequent malnutrition, low body weight, as well as a deliberately imposed long-lasting diet that restricts the intake of various nutrients, results in a reduction of bone density in both men and women.
- Gastrointestinal tract surgery- an operation that reduces the size of the stomach or intestines in order to limit food intake, results in a smaller surface that absorbs nutrients, including calcium.
Steroids and other drugs
Prolonged use, both oral or by injection of corticosteroids like prednisolone and cortisone, has a negative effect on the process of permanent renewal of bone tissue. The occurrence of osteoporosis is also associated with the use of medications prescribed for or against:
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GER)
- Rejection of a transplanted organ
The risk of osteoporosis is increasing in people suffering from some medical problems, for example:
- Celiac disease (intolerance to gluten)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Kidney or liver disease
- Multiple myeloma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The choices we make, as well as the acquired habits, can sometimes also increase the risk of osteoporosis. For example:
- Sedentary lifestyle – the lack of sufficient movement greatly increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Movements and exercise related to weight lifting, balance training and good sitting pose are beneficial to bones. Walking, running, jumping and dancing are especially recommended.
- Alcohol abuse – excessive intake of alcohol (more than 100 ml of concentrate daily) increases the risk of osteoporosis.
- Smoking – it is not possible to say what is the exact mechanism by which tobacco leads to a reduction in bone density, but there is evidence in numerous statistics.
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