The risk for osteoporosis develops with the decline in estrogen production that accompanies menopause. Women with osteoporosis experience a loss of bone mass, making their bones weaker and more subject to fractures. Women who suffer vertebral fractures develop a curvature of the spine, which causes the “dowager’s hump” appearance.
|The following factors are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis:
- Female sex
- Advanced age
- White or Asian
- Thin, small-framed body
- Positive family history of fractures or osteoporosis
- Low calcium intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol intake
- High protein intake
- Early menopause (before age 45)
- Nulliparity (the condition of not having given birth)
- Certain endocrine diseases
- Certain medications (such as cortisone, prednisone, excess thyroid hormone, carbamazapine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, GnRH agonists, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injections for contraception, some psychotropic drugs and antidepressants, heparin, and thiazides)
- Eating disorders
|Reducing your risk of osteoporosis
- Estrogen replenishment therapy: Prevents the hormone-related bone loss that leads to osteoporosis
- Maintain adequate calcium and vitamin D intake
- Decreased use of caffeine and alcohol, smoking cessation
- Regular exercise may be one of the most effective ways to stave off osteoporosis:
- Engaging in regular, weight-bearing exercise (such as weightlifting) has been shown to prevent and in some cases even reverse bone loss. This type of exercise strengthens bones and decreases bone loss. Such exercises include walking or running, stair climbing, rope jumping as well as resistance/strength training.
- The myriad benefits of strength training in older women have been established by researchers such as Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. With a regimen of progressive “resistance” training, Dr. Nelson’s group of women 59 years and older progressively increased their muscle mass, muscle strength and dynamic balance, as well as increasing total body bone mineral content by 2 percent in strength-trained women aged 50 to 70 years of age.
1National Osteoporosis Foundation. (1998 Nov). Physician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis.
2Nelson ME, et al. Effects of high-intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. A randomized controlled clinical trial. JAMA 1994 272(24): 1909-1914.