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Osteoporosis and women's health

Published:Friday | November 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie

Did you know that women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men? If this is your first time reading about osteoporosis, it is a disease of the bones that causes bones to become weak and break easily.

Osteoporosis affects mostly older women, but prevention starts when you are young. There are multiple reasons why women are more likely to get osteoporosis than men, including women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.

Oestrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss.

Hunched backs, back pain, and frailty used to be things older women had to accept before doctors knew anything more about osteoporosis. However, the disease is preventable with a few tweaks to your lifestyle. The behaviours that women develop in their childhood, their adolescence, and in their early adult years really play a significant role in the development of the disease.

There are three major factors that affect your chance of experiencing osteoporosis:

1. The amount of bone you have when you reach menopause.

The greater your bone density is to begin with, the lower your chance of developing osteoporosis. If you had low peak bone mass or other risk factors that caused you to lose bone, your chance of getting osteoporosis is greater.

2. How fast you lose bone after you reach menopause.

For some women, bone loss happens faster than for others. A woman can lose up to 20% of her bone density during the five to seven years following menopause. If you lose bone quickly, you have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis.

3. Expectant women.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are good for you and for your baby’s growing bones. If you don’t get enough of these nutrients, your baby’s calcium needs will be met by taking calcium from your bones.

Here are some ways to reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis.

1. Get enough calcium and vitamin D each day.

2. Get active. Choose weight-bearing physical activities like running or dancing to build and strengthen your bones.

3. Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk for broken bones.

4. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation because studies show too much alcohol can harm your bones.

For more information and testing for osteoporosis, speak with your physician. Sources: Hormones and Healthy Bones: What you need to know about osteoporosis: