May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month - Share Your Knowledge
Many feel that osteoporosis is a geriatric disease, so it's something we don't need to worry about until we reach the age of 70, or God forbid suffer a fracture, but that's not the case. Eighty-five to ninety percent of bone mass is acquired when we are in our teens, and peak bone mass is reached by 18 to 20 years of age. To maintain this bone, work in acquiring it needs to start long before your 18th birthday. To spread this knowledge the NOF is targeting the family, with advice on how to prevent, diagnose and treat this disease for osteoporosis awareness month.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is using the idea of a gift of knowledge between Mothers and Daughters to explain the need to have a conversation about how to start and implement a strategy for good bone health early in life.
If all of you reading this article took it upon yourself to educate your family members, that could add up to a tremendous amount of educated people. This conversation would hopefully spill over to friends and their families as well, changing the numbers of women and men who would learn that osteoporosis is a life-long educational endeavor that needs to begin early in our families lives.
To combat this disease our battle needs to begin when our children are young with the recommended amounts of calcium, vitamin D and exercise, and education since this is no longer a problem seen only in the elderly.
The best place to start, in understanding and raising awareness, is to look at the risk factors for this disease, and knowing that osteoporosis related fracture will affect 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 within their remaining life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, "A woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. The rate of hip fractures is two to three times higher in women than men; however, the one year mortality following a hip fracture is nearly twice as high for men as for women."
Risk Factors Identified by the NOF:
- Being female
- Older age
- Family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
- Being small and thin
- Certain race/ethnicities such as Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic/Latino although African Americans are also at risk
- History of broken bones
- Low sex hormones
-Low estrogen levels in women, including menopause
-Missing periods (amenorrhea)
-Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men
-Low calcium intake
-Low vitamin D intake
-Excessive intake of protein, sodium and caffeine
- Inactive lifestyle
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain medications such as steroid medications, some anticonvulsants and others. Certain diseases and conditions such as anorexia nervosa, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal diseases and others. (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2009, Fast Facts). See other risk factors for secondary causes, medications that cause osteoporosis, and other factors from HealthCentral.
If you have a family member that has any of these characteristics, please see your doctor and ask to be screened for osteoporosis with a bone mineral density test to see what steps should be taken next.
Please don't let you or your family members become a statistic of this silent thief, check the risk factors to see if they apply to you or your family and get tested today.
Awareness comes through understanding, so if you spread the word on the risk factors, you'll be going a long way to improve knowledge and prevent the actions of this bone robbing thief.
For National Osteoporosis Foundation Events, see NOF Events.