October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day to help raise awareness about this disease. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle thin, which can increase your risk of breaking a bone.
About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, which increases their risk for the disease. Often called a silent disease because you seldom notice early symptoms, osteoporosis-related complications can cause severe pain, disability and even death. The most common sites of fracture are the wrist, spine, hip and shoulder.
We reach peak bone bass between ages 25 and 30, and then slowly begin to lose more at age 40. For women, reduced levels of estrogen after menopause speeds up losing additional bone density, which can lead to osteoporosis.
How can you prevent osteoporosis?
- Avoid smoking;
- Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day;
- Exercise regularly, including weight-bearing activities such as walking, climbing stairs, dancing, hiking or tennis;
- Eat foods that are rich in nutrients, such as colorful fruits and vegetables;
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D; and
- See your doctor to discuss whether you need a DEXA scan, which can detect the disease early.
Although you can’t regain the bone density you had when you were younger, you can help prevent rapidly thinning bones with the right treatment. Talk with your health care provider for more information.