Osteoporosis is the disease of brittle bones. As we age, bone mass loses
density. Menopause can accelerate this process due to the loss in oestrogen
levels. Oestrogen plays two important roles in bone metabolism: it
facilitates the absorption of calcium from the blood into the bone and
inhibits the loss of calcium from bone. Lack of oestrogen will slow down
calcium absorption into bone and, instead, speed up calcium loss.
It is estimated that the average woman loses up to 10 per cent of her
bone mass in the first five years of menopause. Research suggests that about
half of all women over the age of 60 will have at least one fracture due to
Dubbed the "silent disease", osteoporosis reveals no physical symptoms.
That is because bone loss causes neither visible signs nor pain.
Osteoporosis can go undetected for years, until weakened bones cause painful
fractures in the back or hips.
But does that mean every postmenopausal woman should sit back and wait
for osteoporosis to set in? Of course not. Though they can't stop oestrogen
from decreasing, they can prevent osteoporosis by following these simple
1. Exercise: Bones tend to lose mass from inactivity. Exercise,
especially weight-bearing ones like jogging, aerobics and tennis, have been
proven to stimulate bone growth and improve strength.
2. More calcium: Calcium is needed for building bones. Bone mass needs at
least 1,200mg of calcium daily to maintain density.
3. No smoking: Women who smoke generally experience menopause earlier
than non-smokers, so they face a longer period of oestrogen deficiency and
bone loss. Smoking also hampers efficient processing of calcium.
4. No alcohol: Consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day can
decrease calcium absorption and interfere with vitamin D synthesis.
5. Herbal remedy: Remifemin, the black cohosh-derived herbal remedy has
been shown to have beneficial effect on bone to prevent osteoporosis.
6. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Research shows that HRT after
menopause improves calcium absorption and prevents osteoporosis in 75-80 per
cent of women.