Why Bone Loss is Dangerous

It is often referred to as a silent killer, and because sufferers rarely experience severe symptoms, osteoporosis, which literally means porous bone, is as deadly as any disease in this part of the world, as it reduces the density and quality of the bone in human. As bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture is greatly increased. The loss of bone occurs silently and progressively. Often there are no symptoms until the first fracture occurs. Such fractures are typically of the hip, ribs, vertebras, or wrist. People tend to associate osteoporosis with frail, elderly women. But it has been noted that osteoporosis can also strike young people.

Bone Loss

Bone Loss

In Nigeria, it has been noted that 10 million people have osteoporosis, and another 34 million are at risk because of low bone mass. For someone who has osteoporosis, the body breaks down more bone than it forms, and gradually bone loss occurs when it becomes thinner and fragile. This is especially common in women after menopause. More so, the United States National Institutes of Health reports that ‘one out of every two women and one in four men age 50 and over will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime’.

The bulletin of the World Health Organization, WHO, states that the number of fractures resulting from osteoporosis is expected to double worldwide over the next 50 years. This projection is likely based on the expected increase in the elderly population.  But, there are other dietary factors to why people suffer from osteoporosis. Low calcium intake contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. Eating disorders is another factor that enhances osteoporosis. People who have anorexia are at higher risk of osteoporosis. In women, anorexia can stop menstruation, leading to weaker bones, while in men, anorexia lowers the amount of sex hormones in the body and can weaken bone.

More factors include gastrointestinal surgery; a reduction in the size of one’s stomach or a bypass or removal of part of the intestine limits the amount of surface area available to absorb nutrients, including calcium. Osteoporosis has a high rate of disability, even mortality. Almost 25 per cent of patients aged 50 or older who suffer hip fractures die as a result of medical complications within the year following the fracture.

Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, the disease can be prevented through increase in calcium intake to preserve bone mass and increase bone strength. Some of the principal sources of calcium are milk and dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese; canned sardines and salmon, almonds, oatmeal, and dark green leafy vegetables. In order for calcium to be absorbed by the body, Vitamin D is essential.

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