Myths and Facts on Osteoporosis

Here is a Small Guide to Help you know more About this Disease, and Clear some Common Misconceptions about the same.

Myth: Osteoporosis is an Old Age Disease.

Fact : Though old people are more prone to getting osteoporosis, if proper care is not taken, osteoporosis can occur even at a younger age because of factors like inactive lifestyle, poor calcium intake, eating junk food, smoking, no exercise, inadequate or no exposure to sunlight. In women, the risk of getting osteoporosis increases after menopause because of decreasing levels of hormone oestrogen.

Myth: Only Women get Osteoporosis.

Fact : Even though it is more common in women, men can suffer from osteoporosis too. Like women, men often suffer from fractured hips, spine, wrists and other bones due to the various factors noted above. Osteoporosis is preventable with proper care.

Myth: Drinking lots of Milk Prevents Osteoporosis.

Fact : This is not necessarily true. Drinking milk is a great way to get calcium; however this is not sufficient to meet the daily requirement of calcium, which is 1200 mg (for individuals > 50 years of age). Also there are some other nutrients apart from calcium that are as important for bone health. In addition, regular exercise and making other healthy lifestyle choices, like not smoking and getting enough sun exposure also help prevent osteoporosis.

Calcium content of 100 ml of Buffalo milk is 210 mg and that of Cow milk is 120 mg. Talk to your doctor for the proper diet.

Myth: Osteoporosis Runs in the Family.

Fact : Having a family member with osteoporosis does put you at higher risk, but with proper diet and exercises, osteoporosis can be prevented.

Myth: Osteoporosis can be Diagnosed once the Signs Start Showing up.

Fact : Osteoporosis can be diagnosed even before the signs start showing up because people with osteoporosis often have no complaints and do not show any signs. Only if an individual undergoes a check up with a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test, or in case of a fracture, will the low bone mass get detected. A BMD test measures the amount of bone mineral which relates directly to bone strength and assesses your risk of fracturing a bone in the future.

Myth: Osteoporosis is a Natural Part of Ageing.

Fact : This is one of the most common misconceptions about osteoporosis. Though age is an important risk factor for osteoporosis, having a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercises in young age can help prevent osteoporosis in old age.

Myth: Osteoporosis cannot be Treated.

Fact : While preventing the onset of osteoporosis is important, there are ways to treat the disease as well with a variety of medications that can help strengthen bones. Also, using supplements, taking specific medicines and starting an exercise program, even if you are older, can help prevent any further damage from the disease. Please consult your doctor for the proper exercise regimen.

Myth: Age and being a Female are the only Risk Factors for Osteoporosis.

Fact : Age is a major risk factor, especially for those over 65 and after menopause 1 in 2 women suffer an osteoporosis related fracture. But apart from these, the following are risk factors too:

  • Asian race
  • Small bone structure
  • Early menopause or postmenopause
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low body weight
  • Low-calcium diet (eating junk foods, inadequate intake of milk and milk products)
  • Inactive lifestyle (sitting in offices for long hours, no exposure to sunlight)
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Eating disorders - (Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa) (<b>Anorexia nervosa - characterized by low weight with an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Individuals with this disorder control body weight through the means of voluntary starvation, vomiting, etc.
    Bulimia nervosa - characterised by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable eating, followed by compensatory behaviours like self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise)
  • Use of certain medications such as steroids or anticonvulsants

Talk to your doctor about your personal risk for osteoporosis.

Myth: Osteopenia always Proceeds to Osteoporosis.

Fact : Osteopenia is the stage that comes before osteoporosis where the bone density is lower than normal but not as low as in osteoporosis. Proper diet, calcium supplements, medications and lifestyle changes at this stage can prevent its progress to developing osteoporosis.

Myth: Osteoporosis Affects all Bones of the Body.

Fact : Though osteoporosis can occur in all the bones, it mainly affects the hip, spine, forearm / wrist.

Myth: Taking Calcium Supplements can Cause Kidney Stones.

Fact : The tolerable upper level for calcium is 2500 mg. Calcium toxicity such as kidney stones may result if a person takes more than 2500 mg of calcium everyday. Dietary intake of calcium is inadequate to meet the daily requirements and thereby calcium supplementation in a dose of 500-1000 mg will not increase the risk of kidney stones.


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