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Senior Health Week: Osteoporosis
Health News You Can Use •

Latest Osteoporosis News:

Structural Network Inside Bones Can Deteroriate in Year After Menopause: The network, called the trabecular architecture, was found to deteriorate even though study participants showed only a modest loss of bone mineral density.

Recent Osteoporosis News:

Expert Says Most Are Unware They Have Osteoporosis Until a Fracture: Researchers call for education, calling osteoporosis a hidden disease in that the diagnosis is rarely recorded as the main reason for a hospitalization.

Osteoporosis Patients Advised to Combine Calcium with Phosphorus: Researchers say if women are taking calcium supplements without the necessary phosphorus, these supplements would not only fail to stem bone loss, but could even lead to an overall phosphorus deficiency.

FDA Approves Once-a-Week Actonel for Postmenopausal Osteoporosis: Actonel, like Fosamax, is a nonhormonal bisphosphonate drug that stop cells from breaking down bone.

Prilosec Decreases Calcium Absorption in Women Over 65: Drug used to treat acid reflux may put women at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Long-Time Tea Drinkers Develop Stronger Bones: Researchers say an average of two cups of black, green or oolong tea daily over at least a six-year period reduced the risk of osteoporosis.

New Anabolic Drug Expected to Provide Option for Osteoporosis Patients: Researchers say it may increase bone density 15 percent, rather than six percent with the current therapies.

Generic Version of Fosamax Tentatively Approved by FDA: But it will still be some time before the drug, used for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, is on the market.

Phase I Trial Begins on Oral Form of Calcitonin: Researchers express optimism about an oral form of drug, which is currently only available to osteoporosis patients by injection or nasal spray.

Non-Surgical Procedure Can Help Patients Suffering From Spinal Fractures: Researchers say patients with osteoporosis who are suffering from spinal fractures can find relief from their pain with a non-surgical procedure called vertebroplasty.

Australia Said Behind the Times in Treatment of Osteoporosis: Survey finds that more than one-third of Australian women over age 45 are not concerned about osteoporosis as a health risk.

High-Protein Diet, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Prevent Osteoporosis: Researchers found the diet helps healthy older people increase their total body bone mineral density (BMD), a key to preventing osteoporosis.

Bone-Building Hormone Approved for Women With Osteoporosis: A federal advisory committee has unanimously endorsed a natural bone-building hormone as a treatment for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, the bone disease that afflicts millions of older Americans.

Osteoporosis Primer:

Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist.

In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. One out of every two women and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, and approximately 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures at other sites.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a hip fracture or a vertebra to collapse. Collapsed vertebra may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis, or severely stooped posture.

Bone is living, growing tissue. It is made mostly of collagen, a protein that provides a soft framework, and calcium phosphate, a mineral that adds strength and hardens the framework.This combination of collagen and calcium makes bone strong yet flexible to withstand stress.

Throughout your lifetime, old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is added to the skeleton (formation). During childhood and teenage years, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. Bone formation continues at a pace faster than resorption until peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) is reached around age 30. After age 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone formation. Bone loss is most rapid in the first few years after menopause but persists into the postmenopausal years.

Osteoporosis develops when bone resorption occurs too quickly or if replacement occurs too slowly. Osteoporosis is more likely to develop if you did not reach optimal bone mass during your bone building years.

Certain factors are linked to the development of osteoporosis or contribute to an individual's likelihood of developing the disease. These are called "risk factors." Many people with osteoporosis have several of these risk factors, but others who develop osteoporosis have no identified risk factors. These are some risk factors you cannot change:

  • Gender - Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are a woman. Women have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly than men because of the changes involved in menopause.
  • Age - the older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones become less dense and weaker as you age.
  • Body size - Small, thin-boned women are at greater risk.
  • Ethnicity - Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk. African-American and Latino women have a lower but significant risk.
  • Family history - Susceptibility to fracture may be, in part, hereditary. People whose parents have a history of fractures also seem to have reduced bone mass and may be at risk for fractures.

Risk factors you can change include:

  • Sex hormones: abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), low estrogen level (menopause), and low testosterone level in men.
  • Anorexia. A lifetime diet low in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids or some anticonvulsants.
  • An inactive lifestyle or extended bed rest.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Excessive use of alcohol.

Fall prevention is a special concern for men and women with osteoporosis. Falls can increase the likelihood of fracturing a bone in the hip, wrist, spine or other part of the skeleton. It is important that individuals with osteoporosis be aware of any physical changes they may be experiencing that affect their balance or gait, and that they discuss these changes with their health care provider.

To reach optimal peak bone mass and continue building new bone tissue as you get older, there are several factors you should consider:

  • Calcium. An inadequate supply of calcium over the lifetime is thought to play a significant role in contributing to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies show that low calcium intakes appear to be associated with low bone mass, rapid bone loss, and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys have shown that many people consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and maintain healthy bones. Depending upon how much calcium you get each day from food, you may need to take a calcium supplement.
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and in bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight. While many people are able to obtain enough vitamin D naturally, studies show that vitamin D production decreases in the elderly, in people who are housebound, and during the winter. These individuals may require vitamin D supplementation to ensure a daily intake of between 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D. Massive doses are not recommended.
  • Exercise. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for your bones is weight-bearing exercise, that forces you to work against gravity. These exercises include walking, hiking, jogging, stair-climbing, weight training, tennis, and dancing.
  • Smoking. Smoking is bad for your bones as well as for your heart and lungs.
  • Alcohol. Regular consumption of 2 to 3 ounces a day of alcohol may be damaging to the skeleton, even in young women and men. Those who drink heavily are more prone to bone loss and fractures, both because of poor nutrition as well as increased risk of falling.
  • Medications that cause bone loss. The long-term use of glucocorticoids (medications prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, lupus, and other diseases of the lungs, kidneys, and liver) can lead to a loss of bone density and fractures. Other forms of drug therapy that can cause bone loss include long-term treatment with certain antiseizure drugs, such as phenytoin (Dilantin�) and barbiturates; gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs used to treat endometriosis; excessive use of aluminum-containing antacids; certain cancer treatments; and excessive thyroid hormone. It is important to discuss the use of these drugs with your physician, and not to stop or alter your medication dose on your own.

Various medications are available for the prevention, as well as treatment, of osteoporosis.

Currently, estrogen, calcitonin, alendronate, raloxifene, and risedronate are approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Estrogen, alendronate, risedronate, and raloxifene are approved for the prevention of the disease. Alendronate is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in men. Alendronate and risedronate are approved for use by men and women with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.

Background information provided by: The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892



































































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