- The menopause
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Thin or slender build
- Caucasian or Asian ethnic origin
- Calcium deficiency
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Taking little exercise
- Smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day
Bone density scans can pick up osteoporosis. The most commonly used is a technique called DXA. If you are at risk from osteoporosis, you may need regular bone scans. Once bone loss has occurred, it cannot be reversed–but there are many things which can be done to prevent further thinning. These include.
A calcium–rich diet is important, although alone it won–t stop osteoporosis. A daily intake of at least 1000mg of calcium is recommended (a little over a pint of milk). Lifestyle changes such as cutting out smoking and alcohol can help.
Weight bearing exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes, three times a week, is very good for strengthening bones. Exercise also helps to improve balance and co–ordination, thereby reducing the chance of falls and broken bones.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). After the menopause, lack of estrogen is the major reason why osteoporosis develops. HRT can restore estrogen in the body and greatly reduces the risk of fractures (it may cut fracture rates by 50%). However, it’s not so for every woman. There are a range of other medical treatments which you can get from your doctor which can help. Ideally, you should be thinking about taking these steps well before the menopause (i.e., in your 30s) in order to build healthy bones before the major risk period.
Mental IllnessAll women are at a risk for depression. Depression cuts across all classes, race and social lines. Depression afflicts twice as many women as men and they are at a higher risk for major depression (although some researchers maintain that depression is under diagnosed in men.) Young women are most prone to get depressed.
What Are the Risk Factors for Depression?
Menstruation and pregnancy generally do not lead to depression. Infertility, however, can be a source of depression for women who want children. Miscarriages and surgical menopause can also cause depressive symptoms.
Women who are more passive, dependent, pessimistic, or negative in their attitudes are more likely to become depressed, particularly if they dwell on their bad feelings.
Sexual and physical abuse
Violent episodes such as battering and rape may leave women with Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Also, un–diagnosed head trauma from battering can cause depressive symptoms.
Marriage and children
Marriage protects men against depression much more than it does women. Mothers of young children are very vulnerable to depression, and the more children a woman has, the more likely it is that she’ll be depressed.
Other high–risk groups
lesbians, adolescents, and women who are alcoholics or drug abusers are all at high risk for depression.