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Osteoporosis Risk Factors

20120525101744-reumatikWorld Health Organization (WHO) defines that the bone mineral density in osteoporosis has T-score less than -2.5 as measured by DXA (Dual energy X-ray Absorptiometry) while normal bone is greater than -1. Osteoporosis is less common and less severe in men. Weak bones are more likely to break. Wrist, hip, and vertebral (spine) fractures are all more common in people with osteoporosis.

Two types of risk factors for osteoporosis,

Risk factors you can’t change:

Being female
Being white, Hispanic, or Asian
Family history of osteoporosis or hip fracture
Getting older

Risk factors you may be able to change:

Loss of female hormones—Bones rapidly lose calcium after menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) slows down the loss of calcium. All women who have gone through, or are going through, menopause should consider hormone replacement therapy. This is a complex decision and your healthcare provider will be able to give you advice based on your medical history.

Lack of exercise—Bones, like muscles, become weak with lack of use. Exercise strengthens bones and it is never too late to start. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, dancing, and aerobics are all fine. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes 3-5 times a week. This will also increase muscle strength and coordination and thus reduce your chance of falling. If your health does not allow this much exercise, check with your healthcare provider.

Taking certain medication — Steroids (such as prednisone), some anti-epilepsy medicines, some sedatives, and too much thyroid hormone increase your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. If you are on any of these medications, you should discuss with your healthcare provider whether you still need to continue these medications.

Excessive dieting—Dieting so that you become very thin may also weaken your bones. If you are overweight and your health is affected, you should try to get down to a “normal weight,” but don’t overdo it!

Smoking—If you smoke, quit. Smoking is bad for many conditions including osteoporosis. Your healthcare provider can give you information about quitting. Or you may contact Free & Clear, Group Health’s smoking cessation program.

Alcohol, coffee, and meat—Doctors are uncertain how important each of these factors are in causing osteoporosis. If you are concerned about osteoporosis, you may wish to limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men. Consider drinking less than two caffeinated drinks per day, and not eating meat more than three times per week. But if you do reduce your meat intake, make sure you still have a balanced diet.

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