Monday, July 25, 2011

The Role of Hormones in Osteoporosis

A Crippling Bone Disease For Both Men & Women
Osteoporosis is often called the silent crippling bone disease because so many people are unaware they have it until they begin to experience bone fractures in their spine, hips, wrists and arms.

Some estimates show that one of every two American women over age 50 may develop an osteoporosis-related fracture, nearly twice the rate of men.  But it is vital to understand that osteoporosis is not just a woman’s disease. Men are at risk for this chronic, degenerative condition as well.

According to the National Institute of Health, osteoporosis is a significant threat to both men and women in their later years.  The incidence of bone fractures increases with age, resulting in complications that can be disabling or even fatal.

The Biology of Bones
Bone cells are continually being turned over in a natural biological process as new bone is formed and old bone is dissolved.  During childhood and the teen years, the body is always adding new bone to the growing skeleton.

A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, as well as getting plenty of weight-bearing exercise, is critical when we’re young in order to develop healthy bones that will sustain us through life.

We reach our peak of bone mass or bone mineral density around age 30.  This is generally when our bones are the thickest and strongest.  In the decades following, there is a gradual decline of bone mass as the body slows down the formation of new bone.

As an adult, a good diet and regular exercise continue to be vital to keep bones healthy.  But adults are prone to other risk factors that are equally important to whether or not osteoporosis develops.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
A number of risk factors are proven to accelerate bone loss and make you more prone to osteoporosis.  These include:

  • Smoking
  • Excess consumption of alcohol and drinking a lot of carbonated soda
  • Some medical conditions and their treatments, including steroid use for asthma and arthritis, anticonvulsant medication for seizure disorders, antacids that contain aluminum, and certain treatments for cancer, including prostate cancer
  • Family history
  • Fair-skinned and slender if you are woman 

But you may not be aware that declining hormone levels are also a key factor.

The Role of Hormones
In mid-life, a drop in estrogen, testosterone and progesterone put both men and women on the path for accelerating bone loss, a situation that causes the bone to become weak, brittle and more easily fractured.

If osteoporosis does develop, a fall can easily result in a broken hip, wrist or arm. In extreme cases, simply standing can cause a fracture in the spine.

For women, rapid bone loss can occur during the first few years immediately after menopause – the result of a dramatic drop in hormones, especially estrogen.

Men have larger skeletons and greater total bone mass.  For men, the process toward accelerated bone loss is much more gradual.  However, that risk may change as men age.  For example, by age 70 both men and women will lose bone at the same rate.  In addition, new research shows that not only low levels of testosterone are a factor for men in developing osteoporosis, but low levels of estrogen may have an impact as well.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that hip fractures in older men can be devastating, contributing to a loss of independence and the need to be placed in a nursing facility.  Men also have twice the mortality rate of women after a hip fracture.

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute, a comprehensive anti-aging management plan includes a bone density test.  This simple, painless test involves a dual-energy x-ray exam that measures the health of your bones.  Your score on the bone density exam will help the physician determine your need for both nutritional supplements and hormone replacement therapy.  It is our goal to ensure your risk for osteoporosis is as low as possible.

If you desire to learn more about the active role hormones play in the prevention of osteoporosis and better age management, call Southwest Age Intervention Institute today.  Speak to our team of age management specialists and more importantly, schedule your confidential executive health evaluation so you can get started enjoying healthy living and aging at every age no matter the number.

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