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Chew on this bone

It's time to gain a better understanding of osteoporosis

What do we know about osteoporosis ? Apart from recognizing it as an illness that affects the bones and that millions of people around the world suffer from it, there is a general lack of awareness of this disease.

Since today is World Osteoporosis Day (WOD), let us delve further into this ailment and understand osteoporosis fully and how we can prevent it.

The myths of osteoporosis

Myth 1 : I am too young to worry about osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a pediatric disease which shows itself mainly when people are more than 50 years old. You are never too young to take preventative measures. This includes healthy nutrition with adequate calcium, vitamin D and protein, regular weight-bearing exercise, not smoking and controlling your alcohol intake. Bone mass acquired during youth is an important determinant of the risk of osteoporotic fracture during later life. You can also help older family members learn about their osteoporosis risk.

 

Myth 2 : Osteoporosis is just a natural part of ageing.

Now that much more is known about the causes of osteoporosis, we know that not all people will have this condition as they age. By building strong bones through exercise and healthy nutrition when young, maintaining good bone health during adulthood and taking measures when we age, everyone can minimize the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

 

Myth 3 : Only old ladies have osteoporosis

There are many misconceptions about osteoporosis, for example that it is "an old woman's disease". Osteoporosis is a global problem which is increasing in significance as the population of the world both grows and ages. In fact, bone loss in women can begin as early as age 25. Worldwide, the lifetime risk for a woman to have an osteoporotic fracture is around one in three.

The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is also known as "the silent epidemic" because a person usually doesn't know he has it until it's too late.

Myth 4 : Men don't suffer from osteoporosis

Studies have shown the prevalence of osteoporosis in men is higher than previously thought -- with approximately one in five men affected. One in three hip fractures and one in five vertebral fractures occur in men. The risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men increases greatly with heavy alcohol intake, particularly with long-term intake.

It is estimated that the lifetime risk of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture in men over the age of 50 is one in three, similar to the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer. In Sweden, osteoporotic fracture sin men account for more hospital bed days than those due to prostate cancer.

Myth 5 : There's nothing you can do about osteoporosis if you have it.

Osteoporosis can be managed and treated by physicians from various areas of specialization -- including general practitioners, endocrinologists, gynaecologists, rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons. There are a number of different therapies available that can reduce the risk of vertebral fractures by up to 65% and non-vertebral fractures by up to 70%.

Besides drug therapy, calcium and vitamin D supplements might also be prescribed to ensure adequate intake and ensure maximum effectiveness of the drug therapy.

Regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to help maintain and build up bone mass. The stronger muscles, better balance and agility to which exercise contributes can also help in fall prevention. Rehabilitation following fractures, strategies for the prevention of falls, and psychological and practical support are important components of therapy. Osteoporosis patients and medical societies may be able to provide further information about physicians with special expertise in treating osteoporosis.

Myth 6 : Osteoporosis is not a serious or deadly condition

Osteoporosis is a widespread public health problem. The costs to national healthcare systems from osteoporosis-related hospitalization are staggering. One in three women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will one in five men. The lifetime risk for a woman or man of dying from hip fracture complications is the same as for dying from breast or prostate cancer respectively.

Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, the United States and Japan. This figure is projected to double within 50 years. It is also estimated that around 225 million people in Europe, the US and Japan have low bone mass, termed as "osteopenia".

Due to demographic changes, the greatest increase in the number of people with osteoporosis will be in Asia and Latin America. It is projected that about 50% of all osteoporotic hip fractures will occur in Asia by the year 2050.

 
 

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Chew on this bone

 

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