A “Dowager’s Hump”, one descriptor for a dramatic curvature of the spine which can sometimes keep an individual from standing straight. The shrinking in height of an aging parent. An easily broken hip and brittle bones. These conditions are both the symptoms, and some of the the results, of osteoporosis, a reduction in bone mineral density that can be both painful and debilitating to both men and women. Osteoporosis is associated with aging as a natural occurence, and age certainly can play a part in it’s onset. But there are many other factors; real risk factors to take into consideration. First of all, women are far more likely to develop this condition. In actuality, eighty percent of newly diagnosed osteoporosis is in women. We have less bone tissue than men and lose it a lot faster as well. All women are at risk to some degree, but Caucasian and Asian women, particularly those who are thin and small boned, have a higher risk factor than others. Genetics certainly plays a part, as does menopause, whether naturally occuring or as a result of ovary removal at any age. Add to these factors smoking, inadequate calcium intake and excessive alcohol consumption, and a relatively complete risk assessment is laid out before us…..or is it?
A 2006 study of 2,500 older participants by Tufts University researchers, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, discovered that regardless of age or calcium intake, women who were regular carbonated soda drinkers lost bone mineral density, while men did not. They ran a significantly higher risk of developing this brittle bone disease than women who didn’t drink soda. Women participants who consumed more than four sodas a week were found to have lower bone density at three different hip locations, a full 4% lower. Additionally, the researchers discovered that the consumption of milk products or calcium supplements had very little effect in offsetting these weaknesses in women who consumed large amounts of soda.
The studies continue and many advancements have been made in both the treatment and prevention of this potentially crippling condition. A well balanced, calcium rich diet and a regular excercise routine, including weight training, can be tremendously effective in keeping bones strong and healthy. As with most everything in life, moderation is the key, particularly in the consumption of sodas, alcohol and caffeine to assist in risk factor reduction. A wonderful resource for information about osteoporosis, medical advancements, diet, excercise and ongoing studies and medical breakthroughs is the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Their website is extremely informative for women of all ages and addresses any and all of the concerns that you may have for yourself or a loved one. For mothers of young children, there is a section on reducing osteoporosis risk factors at an early age that can be both helpful and important for your family’s continuing good health.
We hope that this first in a series of articles emphasizing women’s health issues was helpful and informative. If so, why not subscribe? It’s free and you will be notified each time a new article is published. We wish you good health and Happy Holidays!