Osteoporosis is one of the most common health issues in women worldwide, even more so in those living in urban areas. There are certain measures you can take to improve your bone health and prevent this condition. Osteoporosis has become a major public health concern amongst Indian women. It is widely referred to as a 'silent epidemic' as it usually goes unnoticed before fractures. The data gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that up to 70% of women over the age of 80 have osteoporosis. OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Rahul Gupta, ORTHOPAEDICS, APOLLO 24|7, to know why osteoporosis is common in women and ways to prevent it.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the disruption of bone architecture and reduces bone mass. It makes the bones fragile and thin, resulting in increased susceptibility to fractures. Research suggests that this condition results in around 8.9 million fractures every year globally. Fractures related to osteoporosis are associated with pain, disability, and sometimes even death.
Why is Osteoporosis More Common in Women?
As per various studies, the lifetime risk of osteoporotic fractures in women is 30% to 50% whereas it is only 15% to 30% in men. The higher prevalence of osteoporosis in women is due to multiple factors including genetic predisposition, low calcium intake, and vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, women have thinner and smaller bones as compared to men, which makes them more prone to fractures.
Other than that, the age of menopause and menarche can also have an indirect effect on bone metabolism. Notably, the onset of menopause causes a decrease in the level of oestrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones. Therefore, postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is Even More Common in Urban Women
A study conducted on the risk of osteoporotic fracture in the urban population of India indicates that the occurrence was higher amongst those dwelling in cities. The study involved people between the ages of 38 and 68, out of which 9% suffered from osteoporosis. In several studies, the fracture rates were lower in rural communities and the rising rate of hip fractures in Asia has been associated with increasing urbanisation.
What Can Women Do to Avoid the Development of Osteoporosis?
There are several measures that women can take to prevent the development of osteoporosis. Some of these are:
1. Get Enough Exercise
Women should exercise at least 30 minutes a day, three to four times every week. Your exercise regimen should include weight-bearing exercises as well as resistance training. These exercises force the body to resist gravity and stimulate cells responsible for creating new bones.
2. Ensure a Healthy Intake of Calcium
Calcium deficiency forces your body to take the necessary amount of calcium from your bones. If you ensure a healthy intake of calcium, your body will not need to leach calcium from your bones, keeping them strong and healthy. Some great sources of calcium that you can include in your daily diet are dairy products, fish, and cruciferous vegetables.
3. Quit Smoking
To ensure good bone health, women should stop smoking at the earliest. Smoking cigarettes doubles the risk of fractures and bone loss in women as it reduces the effectiveness of oestrogen.
4. Get Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium by your bones, which makes it vital for maintaining good bone health. You can ensure the intake of a healthy amount of vitamin D by enriching your daily diet with foods like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Moreover, another one of the biggest natural sources of vitamin D is sunlight.
While the risk of osteoporosis is greater in women living in urban areas, you can make the above-mentioned lifestyle changes to prevent it. Also, it is essential to regularly monitor your bone health and consult with a doctor if you experience any bone-related problems.