World Osteoporosis Day 2019: Why women, in particular, should take guard against this malady

People living with osteoporosis tend to have lower bone mass and experience deterioration in the bone tissue.

Myupchar October 20, 2019 07:00:31 IST
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World Osteoporosis Day 2019: Why women, in particular, should take guard against this malady
  • People living with osteoporosis tend to have lower bone mass and experience deterioration in the bone tissue

  • This may make their bones more fragile, and increase the chances of a fracture

  • Research also shows that Indian women tend to have lower bone mineral density than Caucasians and Africans

October has been a month of observing many "world health days”, some of which are dedicated to conditions that affect women primarily. Why is this important? Because studies show that women’s health seldom gets the attention it deserves in India.

For instance, a recently published study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) found that of the 2,377,028 people who visited the AIIMS outpatient facility from January to December 2016, only 37% were women.

World Osteoporosis Day 2019 Why women in particular should take guard against this malady

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

On World Osteoporosis Day today, 20 October, we look at another medical condition that is more likely to affect women than men.

What is osteoporosis?

Simply put, osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder. People living with osteoporosis tend to have lower bone mass and experience deterioration in the bone tissue. This may make their bones more fragile, and increase the chances of a fracture.

There are many things that contribute to the development of this condition. Advancing age, menopause, hypogonadism (when the sex glands produce less or no sex hormones), premature ovarian failure, low body mass index, rheumatoid arthritis, low bone mineral density, vitamin D deficiency, hyperkyphosis (curvature of spine over 50 degrees), smoking, alcohol abuse and long-term use of some medicines are the top causes. 

Research also shows that Indian women tend to have lower bone mineral density than Caucasians and Africans.

Most Indian diets also do not meet the dietary allowances of 600 milligrams per day of calcium for adult women set by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Prevention of osteoporosis

It is a good idea for women over 55 years to have their bone mass density measured, irrespective of whether they have any symptoms of osteoporosis. Doctors typically prescribe a DEXA scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), or MRI of the spine, or Spine CT scan for this.

Apart from these tests, there are some things we can do to improve bone health:

  • Introduce more calcium-rich foods like cheese, chia seeds, almonds, and green vegetables in our diet.
  • Spend enough time in the sun or take vitamin D supplements up to 1,200 mg per day.
  • Do regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises to keep the body healthy.
  • Osteoporotic women are at high risk of getting a fracture. They should try to avoid falling, by correcting any defects in their vision and reducing hazards in the home like slippery floors, obstacles, and insufficient light.

Many of the things that can help women avoid osteoporosis and fractures are simple and cost-effective. For example, calcium and vitamin D supplements are inexpensive.

Women over 50 can save themselves a world of trouble if they take 1,000-1,200 mg of vitamin D and 600 mg of calcium daily, exercise regularly and quit smoking - it is three times as harmful for women.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Osteoporosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention.

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