Did you know that as a woman, your odds of developing osteoporosis are four times greater than the risk for a man? This degenerative condition causes your bones to weaken from the inside out, decreasing your bone mass and increasing your risk of breaks and fractures.
At the internal medicine practice of Beth and Howard Braver, MD, in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, our physicians are dedicated to educating women about this debilitating disease and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Let’s take a look at what every woman should know about osteoporosis and the treatments available to keep your bones as healthy and strong as possible.
Understanding the causes of osteoporosis
You may think of your bones as solid and unchanging, but the truth is they’re constantly growing. When your old bone cells die, new bone cells grow and replace them. This process is called remodeling.
The way your bones developed when you were young and your bone mass at its peak when you’re in your late 20s, plays a large role in predicting your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
We calculate your bone mass based on the number of minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, in your bones. The higher your bone mass is at its peak, the lower your odds are of developing osteoporosis. Conversely, the lower your bone mass is at its peak, the greater your chances of developing osteoporosis.
But peak bone mass is only one factor that contributes to the development of osteoporosis. As a woman, you need to understand the other common causes of this bone disease and how you can work to prevent it from developing.
The role of age and menopause
Once you reach your 30s, you begin to lose bone material more quickly than it can be remodeled, causing your bones to become less dense.
Menopause causes hormonal changes that increase this bone loss. Early menopause (before 45) can accelerate the development of osteoporosis, as can hormone imbalances that trigger irregular periods.
The role of your diet
The foods you eat have a big impact on the health of your bones. For example, not getting enough calcium and vitamin D increases your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Combat this by choosing unprocessed, calcium-rich foods, like leafy greens, broccoli, tofu, and almonds. If you’re under age 50, aim for about 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Women over 50 should aim for about least 1,200 milligrams every day
Your body synthesizes vitamin D from the sun, but since most adults don’t get enough sunlight, you may need to take a calcium and vitamin D supplement to ensure that you get what you need to prevent osteoporosis.
The role of exercise
Leading a sedentary or mostly sedentary life wreaks havoc on the health of your bones as well as your overall health. When you exercise, your bones keep remodeling to support you. But when you’re inactive, your body stops spending energy on keeping your skeleton strong, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
The good news is that weight-bearing exercise helps build and maintain strong bones because it causes your muscles to pull against your bones as you move. This promotes the creation of more bone material, so be sure to engage in weight-bearing exercises regularly.
The role of tobacco, alcohol, and carbonated beverages
Smoking more than doubles your risk of bone loss and increases your chances of developing osteoporosis by inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb calcium and other important vitamins and minerals.
Alcohol and carbonated beverages also increase your risk of developing this debilitating condition.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, talk to us about help quitting. At the same time, work to eliminate or reduce alcohol use by reaching for alternatives, such as water, sugar-free beverages, and fruit juices diluted with water.
At Beth and Howard Braver, MD, we begin treatment for osteoporosis by identifying risk factors for the disease as soon as possible. If you have an increased risk of this condition, we create a customized treatment plan to help you slow its progress and manage any symptoms.
Treatment may include lifestyle changes, like vitamins and supplements, exercise, dietary changes, and quitting smoking, as well as medications, like bisphosphonates, which support healthy bone mass to reduce your chances of bone breaks or fractures.
We may also prescribe other medications to help rebuild bone and promote the growth of new bone cells. Learn more about osteoporosis and how you can prevent it by contacting our Aventura or Hollywood, Florida, office today.