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Sakaal Times
29 October 2010

Dr Sushil Sharma
Arthritis Foundation of India

At menopause, women face an increasing number of health risks and osteoporosis is most common among that. One in three women in India suffers from osteoporosis. A result of normal physiological changes like menopause, osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, increasing the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures post trivial fall or jerk.

The disease develops without any symptoms or pain. It is often not discovered until weakened bones, due to increased loss of bone mass and strength, cause a very painful fracture, usually in the back or the hips, wrists, shoulders, etc. Unfortunately, once a bone fractures due to osteoporosis, your risk of second fracture and related mobility and sometimes mortality is really high.

A number of studies in the last 10 years relate to the insufficient oestrogen in the body leading to osteoporosis. There is a lack of direct involvement of oestrogen during peri–menopause and menopause.

Prevention is key

Because it is hard to replace bone that is lost, prevention is the key. Here are some measures that you can follow to reduce the risk of osteoporosis:

Physical activity

Exercising regularly throughout life can reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Doing some type of physical activity on most days of the week for 30 to 40 minutes is recommended. In addition to reducing bone loss, physical activity will improve muscle strength, balance and fitness and also reduce the incidence of falls and fractures.

Calcium and vitamin D

To meet your calcium needs, choose daily calcium & vitamin D to supplement the nutrition. Follow the recommended dosage on the label or consult your doctor first.

The body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without sufficient vitamin D, calcium cannot be well absorbed by the body; gaining exposure to the sun for a total of 20 minutes everyday helps most of the body to make sufficient vitamin D. You can also get Vitamin D from eggs, oily fish, salmon, fortified cereals and vitamin D supplements.

Limit alcohol & smoking

Limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. Smoking reduces the production of oestrogen, the hormone that protects bones. Too much alcohol can damage the bone and increase the risk of falls and broken bones.

To detect the strength of your bones, you can go for Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD) test.

Anti–osteoporotic medicines and hormonal supplements also help improve bone density of post menopausal women, thus reducing your fracture risk.

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