What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis, which is defined
as a sub-normal bone density that greatly increases
the risk of fractures in areas such as the hip, back
and wrist, affects an estimated 25 million Americans,
eighty percent of whom are women.
Bone loss generally begins between
the ages of 35 and 50. Studies have shown that astronauts
who have been in a weightless environment for as little
as three days show measurable bone loss. Osteoporosis
is also a major concern with young female runners who
suffer from ammenorhea or anorexia.
If bone density studies show heightened
risk of osteoporosis, exercises that involve stooping
down or twisting should be avoided, as they increase
the risk of falling and could lead to fractures. For
women undergoing menopause, who are at a higher risk
to develop the condition, osteoporosis can be prevented
with estrogen replacement therapy, also called hormone
replacement therapy, when combined with exercises and
an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D. Newer medications
can be substituted for estrogen replacement therapy
for women who cannot take estrogen. Women over 25 should
consume 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day,
along with 400 IU of vitamin D. Milk, yogurt, sardines
and broccoli are good sources of calcium. Many experts
worry that an inadequate intake of calcium by teenage
girls and young women may greatly increase the risk
of osteoporosis and other bone conditions later in life.