Until a healthy person is around age 40, the process of breaking down and building up bone by cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts is a nearly perfectly coupled system, with one phase stimulating the other. As a person growths, or in the presence of certain conditions, this system breaks down and the two processes become out of sync.
As women age estrogen levels decrease and the risk of osteoporosis increases. The National Osteoporsis Foundation says that one in two women and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. Thirty-three percent of women over 65 will experience a fracture of the spine and as many as 20% of hip fracture patients die within 6 months from conditions caused by lack of activity such as blood clots and pneumonia.
People don’t know the reasons why this occurs during aging. Some persons have a very gradual turnover, some have a very high turnover rate of bone, but the breakdown of bone eventually overtakes the build-up.
Women may reduce their risk of osteoporosis taking birth control pills during their reproductive years probably because of the estrogen that many oral contraceptives contain. During menopause the level of estrogen produced by the ovaries greatly decreases causing the risk of bone loss to increase significantly. An inadequate intake of calcium throughout life increases the chance of bone loss since calcium is one of the main components in bone. An inactive lifestyle, some medications such as diuretics, steroids, and anticonvulsants increase the risk. Women whose family history includes osteoporosis have a higher risk of developing this condition.
So we can summarize and mark out specific risk factors for bone density loss in men and women. Concerning men they are:
- medical conditions that can reduce testosterone levels, such as prostate cancer treatments, testicular surgery, and mumps;
- hypogonadism, which is a severe deficiency in the primary hormone that signals the process leading to the release of testosterone and other hormones responsible for reproduction;
- hormonal deficiencies, including both testosterone and estrogen, which occur in older men. It is unknown yet what normal estrogen levels are in men.
As for primary risk factors for osteoporosis in women they are the following:
- never giving birth;
- missing periods for 3 months or longer;
- menopause. Within 5 years after menopause, the risk for fracture increases dramatically.
- surgical removal of ovaries and some others.
We can combine some risk factors in both men and women. These rules are entirely simple as for understanding so for following:
- lack of exercise
- being underweight
- lack of sunlight
Often uninformed people confuse osteoporosis with arthritis and believe they can wait for symptoms and only then see a doctor. However, the mechanisms that cause arthritis are entirely different from those in osteoporosis. Osteoporosis usually becomes quite advanced before symptoms appear.
All too often, osteoporosis becomes apparent in dramatic fashion: a fracture of a vertebra, hip, forearm, or any bony site if sufficient bone mass is lost. These fractures frequently occur after apparently minor trauma, such as bending over, lifting, jumping, or falling from the standing position.
Pain, disfigurement, and debilitation are common in the latter stages of the disease. Early spinal compression fractures may go undetected for a long time, but after a large percentage of calcium has been lost, the vertebrae in the spine start to collapse, gradually causing a stooped posture called kyphosis, or a “dowagers hump.” Although this is usually painless, patients may lose as much as 6 inches in height.
People must remember they are never too young to think about preventing osteoporosis. Because it is hard to replace bone that is lost, prevention is a key. Beginning a lifelong commitment to exercise and healthy nutrition while you are still young will reduce your risk of developing this condition later in life.
Exercise plays an important role in the retention of bone density in the aging person. Bone strength increases with regular exercise – to help prevent bone loss weight-bearing exercise such as walking, low-impact aerobics, or tennis work best.
The illustration shows that exercises requiring muscles to pull on bones cause the bones to retain and possibly gain density