Sedentary lifestyle, Smoking and Drinking Aggravate Osteoporosis. A ‘silent killer’, Osteoporosis is the cause of most bone fractures in the elderly. However, it must not be considered a normal or unavoidable part of ageing. Brittle bone disease, as it is called, can be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle, including sufficient intake of calcium, adequate physical activity, and shunning habits like smoking and drinking.
Doctors say the incidence of osteoporosis are increasing due to factors like reduction in the levels of daily physical exercise, low level of sun exposure and excessive smoking and drinking.
“Osteoporosis is often called a ‘silent killer’ because it usually progresses without any symptoms until a fracture occurs or one or more vertebrae (bones in the spine) collapse. Collapsed vertebrae may first be felt or seen when a person develops severe back pain, loss of height, or spine malformations such as a stooped or hunched posture. Bones affected by osteoporosis may become so fragile that fractures occur spontaneously or as the result of minor bumps, falls, or normal stresses and strains such as bending, lifting, or even coughing,” says Dr. Hasib Iqbal Kamali(Consultant-Ortho & Joint Replacement Surgeon).
Osteoporosis occurs when the rate of your bone loss becomes greater than the rate of one creation. The rate of bone loss increases in all adults after the age of 30. In women, this rate further increases after menopause. However, by ensuring a good intake of calcium and vitamin D this bone loss can be arrested.
A recent meta-analysis (acknowledged by WHO) concludes that roughly one in eight hip fractures can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Besides, in case of a bone injury, a person who smokes is more likely to have a longer period of recovery and greater risk of complication, say doctors.
“Osteoporosis may be linked to multiple risk factors. Smoking is an important factor depleting bone health in women today. Smoking during the years of bone-building puts you at risk of osteoporosis in later stage. Smokers are unable to absorb calcium efficiently from their diet. Also, the healing rate of fractured bones is much lower in people who smoke. Similarly, alcoholism is another cause of osteoporosis in some people,” says Dr Abhishek Sarraf, Ortho & Spine Surgeon).
Osteoporosis can also result from bone loss that may accompany a wide range of disease conditions, eating disorders, and certain medications and medical treatments. For instance, osteoporosis may be caused by long-term use of some antiseizure medications (anticonvulsants) and glucocorticoid medications such as prednisone and cortisone. Glucocorticoids are anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, and Crohn’s disease.
“Lack of physical exercise is another major cause of weak bones. Bones, much like muscles are a living tissue which respond to weight bearing exercise by becoming stronger. People who regularly engage in heavy physical work have stronger bones. Near total mechanization of our lives has drastically reduced the physical labor we engage in in our daily lives. This has to be compensated by regular heavy exercising such as jogging or brisk walking,” adds Dr.Hasib Iqbal Kamali.
There are things you should do at any age to prevent weakened bones:
Calcium: Women over age 50 need 1,200 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day. Men need 1,000 mg between ages 51 and 70 and 1,200 mg after age 70. Foods that are high in calcium are the best source. For example, eat low-fat dairy foods, canned fish with soft bones such as salmon, and some dark-green leafy vegetables. Check the labels on foods like orange juice, breads, and cereals to find those with calcium added.
If you think you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet, check with your doctor first. He or she may tell you to try a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D. Your body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium. Most people’s bodies are able to make enough vitamin D if they are out in the sun without sunscreen for 10 to 15 minutes at least twice a week. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, fatty fish, and cereal and milk fortified with vitamin D.
Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises, done three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are examples of weight-bearing exercises. Try some strengthening and balance exercises too. They may help you avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone.
Lifestyle: People who smoke have an increased chance of breaking a bone. For this and many other health reasons, stop smoking. Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol can put you at risk for falling and breaking a bone. r