Simple Steps to Stop Osteoporosis
At health fairs and clinics across the country, women in their 40s and 50s are lining up to have their bone density tested. The test is designed to identify people who have osteoporosis, a serious condition where the bone is brittle and subject to fracture. For many, it's a colossal waste of time.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women shouldn't get tested until they reach the age of 65 or if they have a "fracture risk...equal to or greater than that of a 65-year-old..." To figure out if you're one of the people under the age of 65 that should be tested, the World Health Organization has developed the fracture risk assessment or FRAX® tool.
After answering a few questions, the FRAX tool will estimate your 10-year risk of a major fracture to the hip, spine, forearm or shoulder. If your risk is around 10% or higher, THEN you should talk to your doctor about additional screening.
Check Your Risk Fracture
The FRAX tool is free online at this site: http://www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/ Click on the menu item that says Calculation Tool and select the geographic area you live in.
If you want to avoid osteoporosis entirely, prevention is key. There are two things you must do and four things to avoid.
Studies show that the most important thing you can do for bone health is, exercises that require "...high forces and/or generate high impacts..." That means unloaded exercises like swimming aren't going to help. But, "Exercise involving high impacts, even a relatively small amount, appears to be the most efficient for enhancing bone mass..." Engage in at least 30 minutes of resistance and high-impact exercise, at least three times a week.
Adequate calcium intake is also important to develop a proper amount of bone mass and preserve it. That means you need to look at your diet and make sure eating enough food with calcium in it. Dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese) are excellent sources but you can also find it in beans, soy, nuts, cabbage, turnip greens and even sardines.
- 11-18 year olds should get about 1,300 mg a day.
- 19-50 year olds about 1,000 mg.
- Women over the age of 50 should get 1,200 mg a day.
- Men over 50 shouldn't take more than 200 mg a day from vitamins, because 1,500 mg a day or more TOTAL may raise their risk of getting prostate cancer.
Avoid corticosteroids unless prescribed by a doctor. Steroids increase the bodies ability to break bone down and inhibit the ability to build new bone. They also interfere with the absorption of calcium in the small intestine, so your body steals calcium from the bones to compensate.
Choose antacids without aluminum. The aluminum blocks your bodies ability to absorb calcium.
Quit smoking. It lowers the amount of estrogen in your body. Estrogen is a hormone your body uses to help slow bone loss.
Drink no more than one serving of alcohol a day. Alcohol makes it harder for your body to use the calcium you take in. A secondary effect is that getting drunk can affect your balance and lead to bone-breaking falls.
The reason we're so adamant about not taking the test early is because many women are being told they have "osteopenia." It's not a medical diagnosis of disease, but rather a measurement that indicates you have lower bone density than what's optimal. Doctors are then using that measurement as justification to write prescriptions for a class of drugs called bisphosphonates to build bone. Unfortunately over the long term bisphosphonates may actually make bone weaker and expose you to a wide range of side effects.
Follow the rules and you could virtually eliminate your risk of osteoporosis. Imagine living out your golden years strong, in good health able to fully enjoy life. Ignore the rules and you're likely to spend the latter part of your life frail, dependent on medical care and unable to do the things you want. It's your choice.
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