Money, Health, and Other Things

Educational Blog in the Area of Family and Consumer Sciences for the Middle Peninsula


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No Bones About It – Osteoporosis and Calcium, Part I

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be discussing osteoporosis and calcium – what they are, what are the risk factors for osteoporosis, and in addition to calcium intake, how can we reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

So, what is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, resulting in an increased risk of bone fractures, and may be accompanied by a stooped posture, loss of height, and back pain.

What are the risk factors? There are a number of uncontrollable risk factors related to osteoporosis, including age, sex, race, and family history. As we age, the risks of osteoporosis increases. Additionally, women, those of white or Asian descent, and those with a family history of osteoporosis are also at a greater risk. Hormones can also play a role – women with reduced estrogen levels and men with lower testosterone levels are at a higher risk of accelerated bone loss. A number of medical conditions have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis as well, including Celiac disease, kidney or liver disease, and cancer.

There are quite a few controllable risk factors as well. This includes a sedentary lifestyle – those who spend a considerable amount of time sitting and rarely doing strength and/or moderate impact exercises are at a much higher risk of osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol consumption is another controllable risk factor; more than two alcoholic drinks a day has been linked to accelerated bone loss. Tobacco use can be problematic as well. While the exact role tobacco plays in osteoporosis is not clear, several research studies have identified smoking as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

The final controllable risk factor we’ll talk about is inadequate calcium intake, which we’ll discuss more next week!