Causes and risk factors of osteoporosis
Why does osteoporosis take place?
The main causes of osteoporosis are
- Aging: As people get older, they lose more bone mass so that the bones become weaker. This is due to poor absorption of calcium or the fact that the very body absorb calcium from the bones. The body is constantly immersed in a process of loss and gain of bone tissue. It creates new tissue and old tissue is absorbed. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bone and osteoblasts produce it. When this balance is altered osteoporosis occurs. This process does not occur in children and youth when both processes are in equilibrium, but it begins to appear in adulthood and it is precipitated in old age.
- Menopause: Osteoporosis is one of the consequences of menopause, especially when the loss of ovulation occurs in old age. The lack of estrogen during menopause, and especially during the first 5 years of post menopause is the reason that calcium absorption gradually decreases which will produce a weaker skeleton. It is estimated that in the first 5 years of postmenopausal process, women can lose up to 20% of bone mass.
- Sex and race: Women are more likely to suffer this disease than men both for its lower bone mass as the greatest loss of it. Among women, those with smaller stature and greater thinness are the most likely. Caucasian and Asian races are more likely than African, Mediterranean or American. Women with blond hair, redheads or those with freckles are more likely. Also women who have been pregnant are more likely, given that pregnancy produces a rise in estrogen that increases the absorption of calcium.
- Food: A diet deficient in protein or calcium can be one of the triggers of osteoporosis due to lack of calcium absorption. Moreover excess of proteins produces a softening body because calcium is absorbed from the bones and expelled through the urine. Young women with anorexia are likely to suffer from osteoporosis because they have very little bodyfat and very low estrogen levels. The presence of fat in the body promotes the formation of estrogen.
- Toxic substances: Certain toxic products, such as tobacco, alcohol, or certain medications (especially antacids with aluminum, diuretics and corticosteroids) may cause this disease. Alcohol interferes with calcium absorption. Tobacco, besides acting as alcohol, also interferes with the absorption of vitamin D.
- Diseases: Osteoporosis is sometimes triggered by physical illnesses such as kidney problems, bone tumors, hyperthyroidism, Cushing syndrome, diabetes, anorexia, chronic diarrhea, hepatic diseases, etc.
- Lack of exercise: Lack of exercise leads to decreased bone tissue. It has been clearly seen that astronauts who are subjected to periods of weightlessness with no physical exertion have significant bone loss. Also those who have suffered prolonged detention have noticed the same symptoms. Moreover it should be noted that many elite athletes who have very low weights also have very low estrogen levels may also have osteoporosis.
Prevention of osteoporosis
We can mention the following advice to prevent the onset of this disease or to improve its condition:
- To take care of the diet
- Supplement your mineral and vitamin deficiencies (Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D,…)
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco,
- Make regular exercise
- Monitor the effects of menopause in women and andropause or male menopause in men.
* More information on ” Osteoporosis prevention”
Diagnostics and treatment of osteoporosis
At the onset of symptoms that may indicate the presence of osteoporosis, we recommend a visit to the specialist who will be able to diagnose the possible existence of this disease. Osteoporosis treatment must be done quickly to prevent loss of bone mass as much as possible.
The standard treatment of osteoporosis is based on the use of a number of drugs for the following :
- Medicines that can strengthen bones and prevent breakage (Bisphosphonates).
- Medications are used to stimulate bone growth (Teriparatide).
- Other drugs that are intended to prevent the reabsorption of calcium (Calcitonin).
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) that are used in the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
- Hormone therapy that is used widely to prevent bone loss in women after reaching menopause. However, given the possible consequences of this therapy (greater likelihood of breast cancer, uterine cancer or myocardial infarction), is increasingly being used less.
All these medical treatments are generally combined with exercise therapy aimed at improving the health of bones and muscles.
More information on osteoporosis
16 June, 2020