Your skeleton is the dense, rigid framework that supports your body’s movements. The bones in your skeleton connect to all the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other tissue that control your body’s movement. It also protects your vital organs, like the heart, lungs, and your brain. But as we get older, we lose more bone density, putting us at higher risks for fracture or broken bones. This bone loss is referred to as osteopenia when the loss is minor, but when the bone loss is more severe it becomes osteoporosis. And this is more common for women as they age than anyone else.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 30% of postmenopausal women in the U.S. have osteoporosis, while 54% have osteopenia. Even though women are at higher risk, there are treatments available to manage both osteopenia and osteoporosis. Let’s discuss the causes of these conditions, the things that increase the risks, and how they can be treated.
Women in the Beverly Hills, California area looking for bone density tests and other forms of treatment for bone loss can get treatment from Dr. Shawn Veiseh. His practice offers comprehensive services for a variety of medical needs, including screening and treatment for bone loss.
What causes bone loss?
The bones in our skeleton are living tissue, and the growth of bone density is driven by your body’s hormones (testosterone and estrogen). Your growth of bone density peaks at around 35, and over the years that follow, your body slows down the production of the hormones that regulate your bone density. For women, this problem worsens over the course of menopause, as your body is producing much lower levels of hormones, or has stopped altogether. Small-boned Asian and Caucasian women are the highest risk group for osteopenia and osteoporosis, and that risk increases with age.
What can increase the risks?
In addition to the reduced hormones you get as you get older, there are many other ways you could be at an increased risk of bone loss. Things like family history, thyroid conditions, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, a sedentary lifestyle (not being very active), and smoking all give you higher chances of suffering bone loss and dealing with osteopenia or osteoporosis. The risk is also higher in people with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
What can you do about bone loss?
Basic ways to prevent bone loss include good nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise. A diet high in proteins, calcium, and vitamin D is good for bones, which you can get from soy, nuts, legumes, seeds, dairy, and eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, low-fat dairy products, salmon, sardines, and tofu.
Your body weight also plays an important role. Weighing too little can increase the chances of bone loss and fractures, and weighing too much can raise the risk of fractures in your arms and wrists. So a healthy body weight helps your bones as well as the rest of your body. Exercise helps to build strong bones and can slow down bone loss, including strength training, weight-bearing, and balance exercises.
Medical treatments for bone loss include bisphosphonates, monoclonal antibody medications, hormone-related therapy, and bone-building medications. These can help to strengthen bones, increase bone density, and stimulate new bone growth.
Bone loss is part of aging, but it can be managed and the risk of fractured and broken bones can be reduced. If you need treatment for bone loss, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh today to get started.