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Archive for April 15, 2012

Osteoporosis~ the silent thief Pre-Test


Before you begin to read the Health Blog Osteoporosis-The silent thief I would request you to take this Pre-Test to assess your awareness on OSTEOPOROSIS.

1. Osteoporosis is a condition:
A. It is a disease of painful joints
B. It is a cancer of bones
C. It is thinning of bones
D. It is an inborn disease.

2. Osteoporosis occurs in
A. Children
B. In old people only
C. In women only
D. In both men and women.

3. Osteoporosis is:
A. Not serious enough to worry about.
B. It has no cure.
C. It is a disease with serious complications
D. Cannot be avoided.

4. Osteoporosis:
A. Is a rare disease
B. It occurs mostly in whites
C. It occurs in cold countries
D. South Asian ethnicity is a high risk for Osteoporosis.

5. The risk factors for Osteoporosis are all except:
A. Smoking
B. Menopause
C. Exercise
D. Medications like Steroids

After having taken this exercise check the answers from the comment box below to see if your information on Osteoporosis was correct.

Before we begin, it is important to know that Osteoporosis is absolutely unrelated to Osteoarthritis.

Osteoporosis is the thinning of the bones ( not joints), and hence may not be painful, but a lot more serious as it makes the bones vulnerable to fractures even with the slightest of movement like bending or even coughing. Hence reducing the quality of life considerably.

Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints that occurs as a person ages and causes deformity and pain in the joints.

The blog on May 1 shall be dedicated to OsteoArthritis, another important health problem in South Asians.

Now for information on Osteoporosis~ a silent thief read this >>

Osteoporosis ~ a silent thief

Before reading the information on Osteoporosis below, please take this Pre-Test :

Osteoporosis literally means porous bones, or thinning of bones.

Calcium is laid down in the bones for strength. However, for various reasons, calcium deposition may becomes less, leading to thinning of bones.

Why a silent theif?

Bones are weight bearing organs.
The thinning of bones can go on for years quietly, without any apparent symptoms, and hence will not be known by the person.  However, the thin bone may suddenly create problem as it breaks. This beginning of  the complications will occur years or decades later. Therefore, it is important to know the thinning of bones well ahead of time, so that the risk of fracture can be prevented.

Gender difference? 

There is  a sudden decrease in bone density in women after menopause, while in men it is gradual with age and with slow fall in male hormone testosterone. Prevalence of Osteoporosis is 1 in 4 in women while 1 in 8 in men.
Especially men who have had certain medical conditions, on medications, chronic smokers and chronic drinkers may be specially vulnerable to Osteoporosis.

MYTH: It is just a myth  that osteoporosis  is a problem only in women. 

Which are the most common sites of fracture?

The three most common sites to fracture from tinning of bones are: are neck of femur( thigh bone), wrist and vertebrae ( back bone).

THE WRIST : Fracture of wrist is the commonest, but not life threatening, but can serve as a warning sign for those who are not aware of their bone density.

THE BACKBONE : The fracture of the vertebrae may give unsightly hump, may reduce the height or have back ache to begin with. And if progressive can make one unable to lead active life.

THE THIGH BONE : As obvious from the picture below, the neck of femur acts like the steel bridge, bearing weiight of the body. If it gets weak, it can fracture easily. This is the most serious of all the three fractures. These fracture immediately make a person bedridden, and about 30% of then die in first year and another 25% remain bed ridden for rest of the life.

How do you assess your Osteoporosis risk ?

Check  if it applies:

• Am I 65 or older?
• Have I broken a bone from a simple fall or bump since age 40?
• Has either my mother or father had a hip fracture?
• Do I smoke?
• Do I regularly drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day?
• Do I have a condition that requires me to use a steroid medication for over 3 months duration?
• Did I have an early menopause, i.e. before age 45?
• Have my periods ever stopped for several months or more (other than for pregnancy or menopause)?
• Have I ever suffered from impotence, lack of sexual desire or other symptoms related to low levels of testosterone (male sex hormone)?
• Do I currently weigh less than 60 kg or 132 lbs?
• Have I lost more than 10% of my body weight since age 25?
• Have I recently had an X-ray that showed a spinal fracture?
• Have I had an X-ray that showed low bone mineral density?
• Do I take any medication that can cause osteoporosis such as an aromatase inhibitor for breast cancer or hormonal treatment (androgen deprivation therapy) for prostate cancer?
• Do I have a medical condition that can cause bone loss or fractures? Eg rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, gastric bypass surgery, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or chronic liver disease.

IMPORTANT ADVICE: If you are over 50 and have checked ONE or MORE of the above, most Osteoporosis guidelines recommend that you talk to your DOCTOR  to see if you need a bone mineral density test and about doing a comprehensive fracture risk assessment (with FRAX or CAROC).

REASSURANCE: And in case you are told to have osteoporosis ( significantly low bone density) or osteopenia ( slightly low bone density), it is not a matter to panic but to thank your stars that you have come to know this before any serious fractures or disabilities occurred.  Know that  the problem can  be controlled by advice and medications from a specialist Endocrinologist or Gynecologist.


How can you avoid Osteoporosis ?

• Adequate amounts of calcium
• Adequate amounts of vitamin D
• Regular exercise

Calcium Requirement:

Foods high in Calcium

Milk, cheese and other dairy products are good sources of calcium.

Other foods high in calcium include vegetables like broccoli, kale, chickpeas, French beans, baked beans and red kidney beans as well as dried fruits and nuts like almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and sesame seeds. Fruits like oranges, grapefruits, figs and apricots are also rich in calcium.

Fish like sardines in oil, fried whitebait and tinned salmons contain high amounts of calcium. You will get plenty of calcium from desserts like fruit cheesecake, ice cream, milk custard and canned rice pudding as well as breads and grains like pasta, wholemeal bread, white bread and white rice. Some other sources of calcium are eggs, soybean tofu, cheese macaroni, cheese omelet and lasagna.

If not completed through foods, Calcium requirement should be met with Calcium supplements like Calcium Carbonate or Calcium Phosphate.
You may use the chart below to calculate your calcium intake, roughly.

Vitamin D

 Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, but this may not be a good source if you live in high latitudes, if you’re housebound, or if you regularly use sunscreen or you avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer. Scientists don’t yet know the optimal daily dose of vitamin D. A good starting point for adults is 600 to 800 international units (IU) a day.


Exercise can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss. Combine strength training exercises with weight-bearing exercises.

Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises — such as walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, skiing and impact-producing sports — mainly affect the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine.

Swimming, cycling and exercising on machines such as elliptical trainers can provide a good cardiovascular workout, but because such exercises are low impact, they’re not as helpful for improving bone health as weight-bearing exercises are.

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