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Is Not Beautiful
If you are young or middle-aged, it is difficult to believe that osteoporosis could affect you. If you are an older but active adult, breaking a bone or losing height as a result of this disease may be hard to comprehend. After all, your bones probably seem sturdy enough, and you are still active and able to do what you want in life. But osteoporosis is a quiet and accomplished thief. There are no visible signs until fractures occur. Your body can harbor it quietly for years, then suddenly normal stress on bones from sitting, standing, coughing, or hugging a loved one can cause fractures that lead to chronic pain and immobility. With repeated fractures, this debilitating bone condition gradually leads to more painful fractures, disfigurement, and immobility.
Many consider osteoporosis to be a normal part of aging; this disease is not normal, yet at some point, it will crush the active lives of more than half of all women over age forty-five. No one wants to be haunted by her own skeleton, and she needn't be because osteoporosis is both preventable and treatable.
So much myth and lack of information surround this bone disease that most patients are shocked when they receive the diagnosis of osteoporosis and want to know exactly why their bodies have failed them. Many are surprised to find out that this disease did not happen overnight but usually took many years to manifest. One patient, seventy-two-year-old Marian, had trouble believing that osteoporosis caused her fractured ankle, then later a fracturein her spine. She asked if we could operate to "remove the osteoporosis." There is no surgery to remove or treat osteoporosis. Yet using the treatment plan in this book, you can take measures to halt, reverse, and stop the fractures from this disease!
Simply stated, osteoporosis is thinning of the bones a decrease in the density of bones. This is one instance in which the word thin is not coveted. Over time, as bones become weaker, they become easier to fracture or break. For millions of older adults with the disease (about 75 percent are women), such daily activities as walking, bending, or even opening a window may be stressful enough to cause a broken bone. These fractures commonly occur in the back, the hip, the shoulder, and the wrist. In fact, with this disease a seemingly minor injury that in normal circumstances would go unnoticed can result in a fracture with severe pain, limitation and expense.
A Concern For All People
Years ago, osteoporosis was considered a normal result of aging like wrinkles or gray hair. It has only been in recent years that researchers have defined osteoporosis as a specific disease that we can prevent. Until the past decade, this disease used to be an older woman's concern, particularly women over age sixty. Newer research repeatedly warns that osteoporosis is a concern for all people, no matter what their age or gender. In fact, 25 percent of osteoporosis and fractures happen in men, including hip and spine fractures. It appears that such risk factors as cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol, lung disease, exercise habits, and medications contribute to bone loss in men. Likewise, men who have relatives with this disease are found to be at greater risk of bone loss.
Today's figures are startling. Osteoporosis currently affects more than thirty million people in our country. While women have a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, by age sixty-five they have a one-in-two chance of fracturing a bone due to osteoporosis. The tragic result is that more than half of all postmenopausal women will experience fractures that could be avoided if they adopted the preventive and treatment plans.
Building Peak Bone Mass
The most critical time to build bone is during the teenage years. Generally, our bone mass peaks between ages twenty-five and thirty. However, some women reach this peak before age twenty. Then the tide turns. At some point, usually around thirty-five or later, women begin to lose bone, sometimes at a rate of 1 percent per year. This loss jumps up to about 4 percent per year during the five to ten years after menopause (usually age forty-five to fifty-five). For those who did not drink their milk during childhood and adolescence, or for those with several risk factors, this loss could be critical.
While previous recommendations were to guard, against osteoporosis after menopause, newer research shows that bone loss can and must be treated much earlier at the ages of thirty, forty, and fifty long before fractures and deformity occur. With today's medical breakthroughs and the greater understanding of osteoporosis, you now can avoid bone fracture, dowager's hump, and even loss of height!
The Bone-Building Cycle
Before you see how to diagnose, prevent, and treat this debilitating disease, it is important to understand the bone-building cycle. Bone is not a lifeless structure. Rather, it is complex, living tissue. As if on schedule, our bodies constantly break down old bone and rebuild new bone. This process is called "remodeling." In children, more bone is built than removed, so during this life stage, bones become larger and stronger. In fact, the skeleton reaches about 95 percent of its peak amount of bone by age twenty.
After age thirty to thirty-five, the amount of bone our bodies break down begins to catch up with the amount of bone our bodies are building. Sometime during this period, the bone removed equals the bone built. Then usually after age forty, the mass of bone removed can surpass the bone which is built. It is at this time that osteoporosis disrupts the natural bone-building cycle, resulting in a decrease in the amount of bone in our bodies.
At menopause, hormonal changes disrupt this bone-building cycle again. Specifically, the natural decline in estrogen at menopause speeds up the breakdown of bone.The Osteoporosis Cure copyright © by Elizabeth Various. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All Rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.