Assess Your Risk for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the micro-architecture of bones which result in bone fragility and higher susceptibility to fracture.

Bone fractures mostly affect vertebrae, wrists, humeri and femura. Vertebral fractures and, with lower incidence fractures of the femoral neck, may occur spontaneously, simply due to the body weight on the vertebral column or on the femur.

The aging process makes all adults susceptible to osteoporosis, however gender and race-ethnicity impact the incidence of osteoporosis and susceptibility to fractures. Women show a higher incidence of osteoporosis than men do. White and Asian women have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than Mexican/American and African/American women do.

These differences in gender and race-ethnicity may probably be due to genetic determination of bone size, metabolism and composition. In women, post-menopausal Osteoporosis represents roughly 80% of all Osteoporoses.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) major risk factors for Osteoporosis and related fractures include:

1. A personal history and a history of fragility fractures in first degree relatives

2. Low body weight

3. Current smoking

4. Oral Corticosteroid therapy for more than three months

5. White race

6. Postmenopausal status

7. Impaired vision

8. Estrogens deficiency

9. Dementia

10. Poor diet

11. A lifelong low calcium intake

12. Low physical activity

13. Alcohol use (more than 2 drinks per day)
In addition use of lithium, anti-convulsants, some diuretics, long-term use of the blood thinning medication heparin, the cancer treatment drug methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and some aluminium-containinganti-acids can all cause bone loss and increase the risk of developing Osteoporosis. Also a recent research showed a lower bone mineral density among both men and women currently using Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) compared to study participants not taking these anti-depressants.

Among the medical conditions and diseases enhancing the risk of developing Osteoporosis are: AIDS/HIV, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Diabetes, Eating Disorders, Gastrectomy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hyperparathyroidism, Thyrotoxicosis, Malabsorption and Cushing's syndrome, a rare disorder in which the adrenal glands produce excessive corticosteroid hormones.

Often Osteoporosis is casually revealed following a radiographic exam, usually being done for other diagnostic reasons. However, X-ray exams only detect Osteoporosis in the later stages. The only symptom is pain which regresses only after bed rest. The specific diagnostic exams for detecting early stages of Osteoporosis are Bone Density tests and Bone Densiometry.

As a preventive measure it's a good rule for women to make Bone densiometric exams at least once before menopause and regularly after menopause as prescribed by their physician. Follow an appropriate diet that includes at least the recommended amount of calcium per day, which can range from 210 to 1,200 milligrams, depending on age. Since it is becoming clear that not only calcium but many other minerals and vitamins contribute significantly to bone health, it's important to incorporate these into your diet.

The most important vitamin for protection against Osteoporosis is vitamin D which is produced by our bodies with daily exposure to sunshine. Physical activity is also essential for guaranteeing bone health. Elimination of risk factors such as alcohol, smoke and sedentary lifestyle, work wonders for our bones and general health.

For more info, visit: www.nof.org