Men's Articles

Build Up Your Bone Bank


How many of us actually pay attention to bone health? Osteoporosis is a condition which results in weakened bones that break easily. We pose questions about the disease to Dr Joanne, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Could My Osteoporosis Be The Result Of Another Disease?

Osteoporosis among women is prevented before menopause due to the bone-building effect of oestrogen. Women with early menopause-either naturally from premature ovarian failure or because of surgery to remove their ovaries - are therefore at particularly high risk of osteoporosis.

Impaired ovarian function prior to menopause for example, athletic amenorrhoea, anorexia nervosa and hyperprolactinemia - can also increase the risks of osteoporosis. Diseases which require treatment with long-term steroids or affects absorption of calcium can also increase the risk.

Could My Medications Be Causing Or Aggravating My Osteoporosis?

Certain medications can alter absorption of calcium or directly affect bone metabolism. These include corticosteroids, excess thyroxine and anti-convulsives. If you are on these medications, discuss with your doctor the measures that you can take to prevent osteoporosis.

Could My Osteoporosis Be Hereditary?

Yes, there is a significant genetic factor involved in the development of osteoporosis. The maternal link is particularly relevant. However, women in general have a greater risk of osteoporosis because at the onset of menopause, there is a period of rapid bone loss of up to o to 6 per cent a year.

Which Lifestyle Changes Are Particularly Important For Protecting My Bones?

In spite of risk factors that we cannot change, like being woman, ageing, menopause and having unfavorable genetic risks, there are lots of ways that we can improve our chances against osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be prevented by lifelong efforts in healthy living to modify the risk factors that are modifiable.

These include regular weight-bearing exercises, sufficient calcium intake, and avoiding excessive caffeine, alcohol and smoking. Exercise should be an integral part of life. You should do weight-bearing exercises like brisk walking, jogging, dancing, taiji, ball games and climbing stairs. Even if you have not tried any sports before, just brisk walking-for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week is good enough exercise for bone health.

Foods which are rich in calcium and vitamin D, like "high-low" milk (calcium-fortified juices or soya bean drinks are alternatives for those intolerant to dairy products), yogurt, cheese, fish with edible bones like sardines and salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables like kailan, spinach and chye sim.

Calcium is the building block of bones. Inadequate supply of calcium will increase the risk of osteoporosis. Equally important is vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption into the bones. There is less need for vitamin D supplements if there is some sir, exposure.

Should I Be Taking Oestrogen Or Testosterone?

Hormonal therapy helps bone building. They are able to assist in preventing osteoporosis. For example, the absolute benefits per 10,000 women-years attributable to the use of combined hormone therapy (oestrogen and progestogen) are 24 per cent reduction in all fractures, 33 per cent reduction a1 hip fractures and 3.7 per cent increase in hip bone density after three years of therapy.

However, hormonal therapy is not administered for the sole purpose of bone protection as there are possible side effects and risks involved. These hormones should be used only when indicated for symptom control and patients need to be assessed for their risk-henefit profile before.

Is There Anything I should Tell Members Of My Family About Ways They Can Reduce Their Risk Of Getting Osteoporosis?

Prevention is always better than cure. It is important that all parents teach their children the healthy way of life. Osteoporosis is known as the geriatric disease with paediatric origins. This is because bone building starts from young. If kids are taught from young to exercise regularly and to have adequate calcium intake, the quality of bones that they are building will be the best that their genetic potential can achieve.

Is They Anything Else I can Do To Prevent Fractures?

The danger of osteoporosis lies in the fact that it is a silent disease. It seldom manifests symptoms until complications like fractures have occurred. (Aches and pains are usually not related to osteoporosis without fractures). It is therefore important to screen and diagnose the disease by identifying risk factor and investigating the bone density. A quick and painless "scan" called the Bone Mineral Densitometry is done to assess the backbone and the hip.

If there is evidence of bone loss and other risk factors, options for treatment should be discussed. Just taking calcium when there is already osteoporosis is insufficient. Early detection of bone loss and implementing measure to slow down or reverse osteoporosis will help to prevent fractures. Most fractures results from falls - and most falls for the elderly occur at home. Steps should be taken to prevent these risks if the elderly are diagnosed to have osteoporosis.

Vitamin D For Stronger Bones

Pregnant women who have more Vitamin D have children with stronger bones. Researchers in the UK found that children of vitamin-deficient mums had an average whole-body bone mineral content (BMC) of 1.04kg compared to a BMG of 1.16kg for kids from mothers kith sufficient Vitamin D levels. The American journal Of Public health has since called for the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D to be increased from five to 25 microgrammes.

 

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