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Osteoporosis: A Silent Degenerative Disease

Cal Cook - May 14, 2018 11:36 AM

Many of us know someone with osteoporosis: a colleague, a relative, a neighbor. But too few of us are aware of the ravages of this condition. Since May is National Osteoporosis Month in the United States, today’s post will be about the causes and risk factors for osteoporosis.

It’s a common misconception that osteoporosis occurs after someone suffers a fractured bone (usually by falling). Osteoporosis is actually a degenerative disease that causes one to be more susceptible to fractures. It’s a “silent” disease like high blood pressure in that there are usually no symptoms. This is why it’s so important to take appropriate steps to ward off the risk of developing it, as well as talk with your doctor about your unique risk profile.

Some Factors That Can Predispose One To Osteoporosis

    1.    Gender : Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Eight of every ten osteoporosis patients are female. This is mostly due to biology -- women have smaller and less dense bones than men. ?

    2.    Age : Both men and women are more likely to develop osteoporosis as they age. As a natural consequence of the aging process, bones get weaker. Weaker bones make someone more likely to develop osteoporosis. ?

    3.    Poor Diet : A Standard American Diet (SAD) consisting of daily servings of high-fat, high-sodium foods with little wholesome nutrients can greatly increase a person's risk of developing osteoporosis. Nutrition is complex, but one of the factors is that an overconsumption of sodium can cause calcium loss, which in turn increases osteoporosis risk. Calcium and sodium are electrolytes that need to be consumed in balanced ratios because they fight for absorption within the cell (as do magnesium and potassium). ?

What all this means is that if you’re an elderly woman with a poor diet you are unfortunately at the highest risk for developing osteoporosis. But the good news is that lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on lowering that risk. Since you can’t change your age or gender, starting with dietary changes is a great first step. Try to consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build strong bones. Try to add some fish and grass-fed milk for the calcium, and make sure not to use too much added salt (for the calcium leaching effect discussed earlier).

An important second step is to consider substituting medications which cause bone loss with alternatives. Many people don’t know that their prescription medications can cause loss of bone matter, making their osteoporosis risk much higher. Invokana is an example of one of these medications. It’s been proven that patients on this diabetes medication have a higher risk of bone fracture, ketoacidosis, and below-the-knee amputation, leading to legal claims . If your medication pamphlet indicates a similar risk, consider talking with your doctor about drugs with similar activation pathways that don’t carry the same risk profile.

It’s imperative to take all of the intentional steps you can to decrease your risk of ending up with osteoporosis, since this condition is quite painful. Hopefully by following the guidelines in this article you can take the first steps towards improved bone health.

Cal Cook investigates and writes about consumer-focused topics including finance, scams and safety. His passion lies in exposing fraud across all industries to protect consumers.

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