Do We Really Understand the Risk Factors? We’ve all heard about osteoporosis. Many of us relate it to a disease that plagues older women – perhaps our mothers or grandmothers. Those of us who are younger may consider it an “older person’s disease,” and though it strikes as we grow older there are many things we can do now to help prevent osteoporosis or improve our chances for stronger bones, and better bone density. All of which are considered key factors in the fight against osteoporosis. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you find yourself avoiding or ingesting low amounts of calcium? Maybe you’re allergic to or intolerant of lactose or you prefer veggies or meat to milk and cheese. You may want to reconsider. A lifelong lack of calcium has a big impact on the development of osteoporosis. Lacking the proper amount of calcium in our diet decreases our bone density, which leads to early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.

Are you a smoker? Though studies haven’t shown a specific link to osteoporosis, researchers know that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Quitting smoking may benefit more than our lungs and overall quality of life, it can help keep our bones stronger.

Are you battling an eating disorder? Women and men who suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia are at a higher risk for low bone density. By depriving our bodies of essential nutrients we weaken our systems and our bones.

Does your job require you to sit much of the day? People who spend a lot of time sitting or sedentary have a higher risk of osteoporosis than those who have more active lifestyles. We aren’t telling everyone to become a marathon runner, but your bones can benefit from adding some walking, running, jumping, dancing, and/or weightlifting to your daily routine. Even 30 minutes a day can be a step toward a healthier lifestyle.

How much alcohol do you consume? Did you know that consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases your risk of osteoporosis? This phenomenon may be caused by alcohol interfering with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Do you use corticosteroid medications? Long-term use of medications like prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone may weaken and damage bone tissue. We understand these medications are helpful in the treatment of conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, and you may not be able to stop taking them to lessen your risk of osteoporosis. Work with your doctor to monitor your bone density and he or she may be able to recommend other drugs to help prevent or compensate for bone loss.

Do you take any of the following? Aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, the antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the cancer treatment drug methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications, the acid-blocking drugs called proton pump inhibitors, and aluminum-containing antacids are all associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about alternatives or to help in monitoring  bone density at your next check-up. Though we’ve listed multiple factors that impact your bone loss, you can see many of these lifestyle changes are small enough to make these changes today. Simple things like increasing calcium intake – whether through your diet or through physician-approved supplements – can make all the difference. Take a hard look at your choices: Can you decrease your risk of osteoporosis by quitting smoking, cutting back your alcohol intake, or taking important steps toward mobility and exercise? Talk to our OAM staff today to learn what you can do to improve your bone health, also visit the OAM website for helpful osteoporosis resources. And watch for part 2 of our Osteoporosis series in the blog in the coming week. Facts cited from the Mayo Clinic Risk Factors post.