20 October 2010
Weak bones in young women too
Doctors Find Smoking, Sedentary Lifestyle Main Reasons
Don’t think only postmenopausal women get osteoporosis. A disturbing trend shows that even the young in their twenties are affected by it.
Numbers across all ages are increasing at the rate of 4% to 5% every couple of years. Reason? Doctors say it can be the Indian diet, which is very low on calcium.
A recent study reveals that the dietary calcium intake in South India is around 350mg in urban and 275mg among rural populations whereas the minimum requirement is 1,000mg per woman. According to Dr C V Harinarayan Sharma, consultant endocrinologist, Fortis Hospitals, whose team conducted the dietary calcium study: "We have found that both Vitamin D and dietary calcium intake is very low among people surveyed in South India."And why are youngsters affected? Doctors say increase in smoking habit and sedentary lifestyle among younger women.
Alternative medicine experts say there is a trend of maintaining a very low–quality diet regime that does not facilitate the processing of Vitamin D in the body.
How To Keep Bones Strong
The best way to absorb Vitamin D is between 11am and 2pm but we are mostly indoors at that time due to our work schedules. Because of this increasing trend, every woman, as soon as she undergoes menopause, should get herself checked for osteoporosis. After menopause, the estrogen levels come down and women become very vulnerable, says Dr Sharma.
Now, a variety of drugs are available both for prevention and for those affected. There are injectible drugs that can be administered once in three years. But along with that women have to take regular doses of calcium, he adds.
According to Dr Hemant Kalyan, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine expert, Manipal Hospital, more cases are surfacing because awareness has spread. "We see a 4% to 5% rise every two years. The largest group that is affected is the post–menopausal women segment and the elderly. However, there is an increasing trend of osteoporosis among younger women due to smoking and sedentary lifestyle. Many who are on steroids due to other health conditions also suffer from similar issues," he said.
However, precautions need to be taken very early in life, even before teens, like regular exercise and eating food properly supplemented with calcium and Vitamin D.
Dr Issaac Mathai, founder–chairman, Soukya, says it occurs mostly due to lack of processing of Vitamin D. "Alternative medicine can treat for better absorption of Vitamin D. Natural sources of calcium are much better than chemically produced supplements. The body has an inherent mechanism to differentiate the two. So we suggest a stimulating and balanced diet," he said.
According to Dr Mythri Shankar, nuclear medicine expert, Apollo Hospitals, "The numbers are definitely increasing, but we have to track symptoms of osteopenia found in youngsters so that it does not progress to osteoporosis. We conducted a study on 5,400 patients who underwent routine bone density testing to understand their epidiomology. The conclusion was that normal bone density decreases as age increases. But when osteopenia sets in, one should take preventive care."
On the occasion of World Osteoporosis Day, Hosmat Super Specialty Hospital has organized free consultation for arthritis patients. Registration and consultations will be on Wednesday from 11am to 1pm. Call 25593796/97; extn–252/253 or 9845266023
Figures to ponder on
- According to 2001 Census, 163 million Indians are above 50 years
- This is expected to increase to 230 million in 2015
- By some estimates, 20% of women and 10–15% of men would be osteoporotic, which would increase the total affected population to 25 million
- If lower bone density implies a greater risk of fracture, then figure can be about 50 million, says Dr Harinarayan Sharma