Osteoporosis Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

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May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Here’s what you need to know about risk factors that contribute to your bone health and how to protect your bones, courtesy of ConsumerSafety.org.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease marked by increased bone weakness, which increases the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures.

How many people does osteoporosis affect?

More than 53 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk because of low bone mass.

What are some risk factors for osteoporosis?

There are several risk factors that may affect bone health, including:

– Medication use: Certain medications may contribute to bone loss or low bone density, which in turn weakens your bones. There are even examples of medications causing such a rapid increase in bone loss that the patient ends up with fractures.

– Lifestyle: A poor diet or a sedentary lifestyle can affect bone health. For example, sodium leads to calcium loss, and calcium is crucial for bone strength.

– Age and gender: Statistics show that women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Meanwhile, bone deteriorates in composition, structure and function as part of the aging process.

How can we protect our bones?

Based on these risk factors, there’s plenty you can do to protect your bones.

– If you’re concerned about how a current or new medicine affects your bone health, consult with your doctor and discuss alternatives.

A diet high in calcium and vitamin D along with weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises optimize bone health.

– Estrogen helps to protect bones, and the hormone decreases when women reach menopause. As such, a doctor may prescribe estrogen therapy to prevent bone loss.

Although getting older amplifies the risk of bone fractures and the development of osteoporosis, it’s important for people of all ages to be mindful of bone health. Since it’s National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, educate yourself on risks and actions, regardless of how old you are.