How Do Eating Disorders Contribute to Osteoporosis?

How Do Eating Disorders Contribute to Osteoporosis?

Did you know that a history of eating disorders increases your risk of developing a serious bone condition called osteoporosis? Other risk factors also increase your risk of getting this disease, which weakens your bones and elevates your chances of bone fractures. 

Our board-certified physicians at Beth and Howard Braver, MD, specialize in diagnosing and treating osteoporosis. We work closely with you to identify any risk factors, like an eating disorder, and get you the help you need to prevent serious complications. 

Keep reading to learn more about osteoporosis and the link between this bone disease and eating disorders. 

Understanding osteoporosis

You may think of bones as unchanging, but the truth is that your bones grow throughout your life. New bone cells replace the old ones in a process called remodeling, which helps keep your bones dense and strong. 

But the process does slow as you age. In fact, as early as your 30s, your bone mass begins to shrink gradually each year. When the new bone creation can no longer keep up, you could develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis causes your bones to weaken and become more porous over time, increasing your risk of bone fractures or breaks. For women, the hormonal changes associated with menopause further increase the rate of your bone loss. 

Age and menopause aren’t the only risk factors for this condition. Other risk factors include:

People who are Caucasian or have European ancestry also have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, as do people with a history of or current eating disorder.

The link between eating disorders and osteoporosis

Eating disorders, especially anorexia, can cause osteoporosis by triggering two things that speed up the natural loss of bone mass: stress and malnutrition.

When you have an eating disorder, your body is in a state of physical stress. This causes your body to produce more stress hormones, like cortisol. These stress hormones accelerate the rate of bone material absorption by your body, increasing the loss of bone mass. 

Eating disorders also trigger malnutrition. This causes your body to stop producing certain hormones, like estrogen, in order to maintain other essential functions. Low estrogen is linked to decreased remodeling rates and an increase in bone cell absorption. 

Unfortunately, most people with an eating disorder either develop osteoporosis or the thinning of bone, called osteopenia, which leads to osteoporosis. In fact, about 90% of people with anorexia develop osteopenia and 30% have osteoporosis. Anorexia increases your risk of a bone fracture by at least three times.

Managing osteoporosis

At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we first identify any risk factors for osteoporosis, such as an eating disorder, and assess you for any signs of the disease. If we diagnose you with osteoporosis or believe you’re at elevated risk, we create a personalized osteoporosis treatment plan to manage or slow progression of the disease.

Osteoporosis treatment typically begins with lifestyle changes designed to improve bone health, such as:

Depending on your needs, we may also recommend medications to minimize your risk of bone fracture, support healthy bone mass, or encourage bone remodeling and new bone growth.

To learn more about the link between eating disorders and osteoporosis or for help with bone loss, schedule an appointment at our Aventura or Hollywood, Florida, location.

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