Osteoporosis can be devastating, causing problems such as broken bones and a hunched-over spine. Here’s how to know if you are at risk of the disease, that results in 56% of Kiwi women over 60 suffering a fracture.
If your bones are small and thin to start with, they can’t afford to lose much mass before they risk fracturing easily. Big-boned women can still get osteoporosis, but people with delicate frames are more likely to develop the condition at a younger age.
Trick or treatment
Corticosteroids, used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, can cause calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients to be leached from your bones, weakening them. Taking SSRI antidepressants, or hormones to treat a thyroid condition, is also linked to bone loss.
Having coeliac disease can make it harder for your body to absorb important nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, which can lead to bone thinning.
Experts don’t quite understand why, but smokers have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercise is important to build strong bones. If you rarely exercise, you’ve got a greater chance of having thinning bones.
Alcohol can leach minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, from your bones, and the more you drink, the more you’re likely to lose. There’s also thought to be a link between carbonated soft drinks and osteoporosis, possibly due to the phosphoric acid found in fizzy liquids.
If you can’t drink milk or eat dairy products because you’re lactose intolerant, you can be missing out on valuable calcium. Make sure you eat plenty of dark, leafy green veges or take supplements.
Having an eating disorder, such as anorexia, can lead to a very low body weight, which lowers hormone levels. Low levels of oestrogen can interfere with bone building.
Irregular periods can be a sign of low oestrogen, which can contribute to loss of bone mass.
Age & ethnicity
If you’re over 50, female and Pakeha or Asian, your risk of low bone density is high.
It’s all relative
If a close family member has had a dowager’s hump, frequently broken bones or shrunk in height, they’re likely to have had osteoporosis, which increases your chances of getting it.