12 12 osteoperosis prevention news Read the latest news and prevention tips about this silent killer.

There’s no bones about it - osteoporosis is a leading cause of death as we age. As a disease characterized by progressive loss of bone mass and deterioration of tissue, osteoporosis is often referred to as ‘The Silent Thief’ because its devastating effects occur without symptoms. Causing fractures more common than heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer combined, osteoporosis can result in reduced mobility, disfigurement, low self-esteem, and reduced quality of life. And that’s not all. With hip fractures among the most common injuries caused by the disease, Osteoporosis Canada cites that 28% of women and 37% of men who suffer a hip fracture will die within the following year.

So how can we protect ourselves against this killer? Dr. Zahara Rasul, MD, CCFP, of Stouffville Medical Clinic, has some helpful hints for staving off the disease.

1. Knowing is half the battle.

“The first step to prevention is knowing if you need to be assessed,” says Dr. Rasul. Key factors that put individuals at greater risk of developing the disease include age (if you’re over 50, it should be part of your annual physical), being post-menopausal, sustaining fragility fractures (spontaneous fracture by falls, with little or no trauma), being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis or other conditions associated with bone loss, having a low body weight (if you weigh less than 60kg or have experienced major weight loss greater than 10% of your body mass around the age of 25), or being a long term user of steroids and other high risk medications.

2. Nix the sticks.

Cigarettes aren’t just a cancer risk. Studies show that smokers tend to be thinner, less active, have earlier menopausal onset, and have poorer diets than non-smokers. If you’re a current smoker, you’re contributing to the loss of bone mass. Quitting is an investment in your long-term skeletal strength.

3. End the booze blues.

Excessive use of alcohol interferes with the balance of calcium in your body. Drinking affects the production of hormones that protect our bones, and vitamins that are needed to absorb calcium. And it’s no surprise that having one too many can lead to slips and falls!

4. Embrace resistance.

Think weight lifting is just for body builders? Think again. “Exercise is essential for preventing osteoporosis - especially resistance training, core stability enhancement, or weight-bearing aerobic exercises appropriate for the individual's age and capacity,” Dr. Rasul explains.  “Exercises that focus on balance, such as tai chi, or on gait training should be considered for those at risk for falls.” 

5. Bone up on calcium.

A healthy diet rich in fibres, fruits, vegetables and dairy is important. “The total daily intake of elemental calcium (through diet and supplements) for individuals over the age of 50 should be 1200 mg,” says Dr. Rasul. “For healthy adults, aim for routine supplementation of vitamin D 400 -1000 IU, and for adults over age 50 daily doses of 800-1000 IU or even up to 2000 IU of vitamin D are recommended.”