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 Post subject: Osteoporosis: the bone damaging disease
 Post Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 3:30 pm 
Osteoporosis: the bone damaging disease

@ The morning Leader

Osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and break easily, is one of the world’s most common and devastating diseases. The result: pain, loss of movement, inability to perform daily chores, and in many cases, death.

Unfortunately, screening for people at risk is far from being a standard practice. Osteoporosis can, to a certain extent, be prevented — it can be easily diagnosed and effective treatments are available.

This year to mark World Osteoporosis Day, which was on October 20, The International Osteoporosis Foundation focused on the value of exercise in building strong bones. The organisat- ion released online a new publication – Move It Or Lose It — how exercise helps to build and maintain strong bones, prevent falls and fractures, and speed rehabilitation.

The theme is the first of a three-year ‘lifestyle’ campaign. The organisation hopes that the positive message will encourage women and men to realise that they can take responsibility for their bone health and not be victims of osteoporosis later in life.

A study of bone health in Sri Lanka highlighted the positive impact of physical activity in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis. The community osteoporosis survey funded by Fonterra Brand Lanka, and carried out by the Ruhuna Medical University in Galle, measured the bone mineral density of more than 9,500 adults across Sri Lanka. The survey which began in October last year was spearheaded by Professor Sarath Lekamwasam.

Speaking to The Morning Leader, Fonterra Brand Lanka Managing Director, Alastair de Raadt, said that the aim of the survey was to gather data from a broad cross section of the Sri Lankan population. He also said, "As much as calcium intake is important in combating osteoporosis, physical exercise is crucial and has been proven in medical research to help prevent the disease.

It is estimated that two million people in Sri Lanka suffer from osteoporosis. Fonterra Brand Lanka has worked closely with the Osteoporosis Society of Sri Lanka in the recent past on a number of projects. Speaking to Dr. Siribaddana of the Osteoporosis Society of Sri Lanka, he says, "The society has been active in research, the most recent being in Sri Jayawar- denapura where three percent of the population suffers from osteoporosis.


Because bone is a living tissue, which renews itself continuously, it requires regular stimulation from physical activity. Like muscles, bones should be used regularly or they will deteriorate. Exercising your back during middle-age can help prevent your vertebrae from weakening or fracturing when you get older. Exercise also helps balance and prevents falls – this is important because every year, some two out of five people over 65 years will fall at least once.

Women who sit for more than nine hours a day are more likely to have a hip fracture, and following a fracture, exercise can help to prevent further fractures and relieve pain. Weight bearing and high impact exercise (dancing, walking, jogging, sports, strength training) is required to stimulate bone formation. Postmenopausal women are the most affected group from osteoporosis. The hormone estrogen protects women against bone loss before menopause.

The symptoms of osteoporosis are largely unnoticeable until the incidences of broken bones become fact. Symptoms to be aware of and to look out for are back and neck pain, dowager’s hump, diminished height and rounded shoulders.

Combating the disease

Osteoporosis is caused by many factors. The dominance of estrogen to progesterone, the leaching of calcium from the bone due to excessive protein consumption and deficiency of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, silica, zinc, boron and phosphorus in the diet, which are all vital for healthy bone growth. To help combat osteoporosis it is best to cut down on animal protein intake. Studies have shown that vegetarians suffer less from osteoporosis, because animal protein increases the loss of calcium through urine, and the loss of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Another agent that increases the loss of calcium through urine is dietary salt. Cutting down the intake of dietary salt, processed and fast foods which tend to be high in salt content will help with osteoporosis. Decreasing the amount of coffee, caffeine-containing carbonated soft drinks and tea will help with osteoporosis — like protein intake and salt, caffeine also increases the loss of calcium through urine.

Many carbonated soft drinks also have a substance called phosphoric acid which has been linked to the loss of calcium and the increase of bone fractures. Increasing the amount of soya foods such as tofu will help protect against osteoporosis. Increasing the consumption of oily fish, evening primrose and flaxseed oil will help to increase calcium deposition in the bones due to the high amounts of essential fatty acids these products have.

Giving up smoking will help with osteoporosis because it increases bone loss. Be careful of dieting. Excessive quick weight loss has been linked with osteoporosis.

The following supplements may help if you are suffering from osteoporosis; Bone mineral complex, Boron, Copper, evening primrose oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, folic acid, magnesium, multivitamin and multi-minerals, soya,Vitamin B12, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc.

 Post subject: The crippling bone disease that targets all ages
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 27, 2005 1:42 am 
The crippling bone disease that targets all ages

Crumbling bones used to be something only old ladies worried about. But now, with young people shovelling down junk food, drinking, smoking and rarely exercising, experts say we’re sitting on an osteoporosis time bomb...

Osteoporosis is known as the silent epidemic, a disease that often goes undiagnosed until it is too far advanced to treat. It is the cause of 40 premature deaths in the UK every day, and more than 800 broken bones. A third of women fall prey to it at some point in their lives, yet only an alarming 20 per cent of the British population knows what osteoporosis is.

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones. Bone is alive and constantly replenishing itself, but when the body falls to replace old bone with new quickly enough, our skeletons get thinner. Weak and porous bone is far more likely to break in stressed areas, particularly the spine, wrist or hip; someone with advanced osteoporosis can break their wrist simply by shaking hands.

However, as there are no warning symptoms, most sufferers are totally unaware they have osteoporosis. The first they know about it is a painful fracture after a minor bump or fall.

Skeletons in the cupboard

Childhood, adolescence and early adulthood are critical periods for building up your bone bank. The teenage years are the most crucial though, because osteoblasts - bone-building cells - are working fast and the skeleton is growing rapidly and increasing in density. Recently, with young people eating more junk food, crash dieting, smoking, drinking more and taking less exercise, they’re at risk too. And no one knows just how badly modern lifestyles will affect their bones.

‘Girls and young women need to lay down a blueprint for the future, by building up their bones,’ says Sarah Leyland of the National Osteoporosis Soclety. ‘They need to eat a healthy, balanced diet with sufficient calcium. And they must exercise more, because impact with the ground improves bone density!

Risky business

It’s a fact of life that bone density decreases with age so, to some extent, we’re all at risk. Women, however, are far more likely to develop it, partly because of hormonal changes during the menopause when levels of oestrogen drop dramatically, causing bone to thin rapidly. Oestrogen helps build bone strength by inhibiting the bone-dissolving hormone (parathyroid) and stimulating a bone-building hormone (calaitonin). Women lose around 10 per cent of bone density during the menopause, and can lose up to another 20 per cent in the five to seven years following it.

Other risk factors for women include early menopause (before the age of 45) and missed periods for more than six months (except through pregnancy). Long-term use of corticosteroids, used to treat asthma and arthritis, also creates a risk.

For men, low testosterone levels play a role. In both sexes, smoking, heavy drinking, being underweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the danger.

Celebrity sufferers

A number of high-profile women - Britt Ekland, Elizabeth Taylor and former Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin - are osteoporosis sufferers. Ekland, 62, believes that her osteoporosis was caused by spending most of her adult life on unhealthy yo-yo diets, starving her bones of essential nutrients.

Many women are at risk of inheriting the condition from a parent. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, aka Camilla Parker Bowles, became a patron of the National Osteoporosis Society after having watched her mother, Rosalind Shand, endure the misery of the disease.

A British problem

Not much is being done to warn young people about the dangers of the disease, partly because there is little awareness of it, but also because of the lack of bone-density scanning facilities in the UK. Compared with the rest of Europe, Britain is near the bottom of the league. The UK has fewer than four bone-screening units per million people; by comparison, France and Portugal have 20, Germany has 10, and Italy, seven. As ever, cost is the issue, but early diagnosis would slash the billions spent on treatment.

Somewhere in the region of 14,000 people die in this country every year following a hip fracture; that’s more than those lost to cancer of the ovaries, cervix and uterus put together. And the patients who do survive often see their quality of life decline drastically.

The bare bones

While this might make for gloomy reading, the good news is that bones respond very well to some serious TLC. Healthy eating and exercise can rebuild bone that has been lost.

Calcium, found in milk and cheese, is crucial to bone renewal - skimmed and semi-skimmed milk are slightly richer in calcium than full-fat. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables will also be rich in the vitamins and minerals that promote healthy bones. Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli are themselves a good source of calcium. Vitamin D, found in eggs and fish, is also important for the absorption of calcium. (See overleaf for detailed advice on making your life more bone- friendly.)

Time to relax

Stress can also have a negative impact on bones. Cortisol, the hormone released when a person is stressed, suppresses bone formation and decreases calcium absorption - so women with a history of depression tend to have lower bone density. ‘This doesn’t automatically mean you’ll break bones, says Jonathan Bayly, a former GP and lecturer on osteoporosis at the University of Derby. ‘Lifestyle is key in helping the prevention of osteoporosis. Vigorous exercise is important, but you must keep it up, or you lose the benefits.’

Lifestyle choices

Maintaining a sensible lifestyle is a key weapon in warding off osteoporosis. Home-testing kits are available, but these only provide a snapshot of a complex picture and aren’t particularly helpful. If a parent or grandparent suffers from the disease, or you’ve been underweight or have missed periods in the past, you can contact your GP and ask for a test. He or she may send you for a bone-density scan (a DXA, or dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scan). NHS facilities aren’t available in all areas, but you can pay for a private scan: costs vary widely, from E25 to more than `A3200.

There are various drug treatments available too. Bisphosphonates are non-hormonal drugs which help maintain bone density. Selective Oestrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) act in a similar way to oestrogen on the bone. Hormone Replacement Therapy is no longer recommended for the ongoing treatment of osteoporosis, although HRT will help maintain bone density for the duration of treatment.

Early diagnosis means osteoporosis doesn’t have to have a major impact on your life. Prevention is better than cure; and by making a few lifestyle adjustments now, you can help build for better bones in the future.

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