Osteoporosis is a topic particularly relevant to Women

Osteoporosis is a topic particularly relevant to women as we have more than double the risk of developing the condition than men and it affects women at a much younger age. Osteoporosis is a loss of bone mass and density due to the imbalance between bone resorption and the laying down of new bone.

As a group, BPW Franklin discussed the many types of osteoporosis; Type 1– postmenopausal, Type 2– senile (affects women and men over the age of 70 2:1), and Secondary caused by medication, nutrition, blood diseases (such as leukemia) etc.

“Osteoporosis” is a word many of us have heard and yet do not know much about. In particular it affects significantly more women than men.

Osteoporosis comes from Greek ‘porous bones’. It is a progressive bone condition characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density and leads to an increased risk of fracture.

Bone is a living tissue. It has a tough outer shell with a porous inside. During life, bone tissue is continually replaced and repaired. Trabecular bone is the sponge-like bone and cortical bone is the hard outer shell. It is the trabecular bone that is vulnerable to resorption and reduced remodeling- this type of bone is most prevalent in the wrist, hips and spine hence more fractures occur here.

In all cases of osteoporosis there is an imbalance between bone resorption (removal) and bone formation (replacement). 10% of all bone may be remodeling at any time.

3 main mechanisms lead to the development of osteoporosis:

  1. Inadequate peak bone mass (peak bone mass occurs between 30-35 years)- if bone mass is less than it should be, osteoporosis will occur more quickly.
  2. Excessive bone resorption (lack of oestrogen increases bone resorption)
  3. Inadequate formation of new bone (lack of calcium and vitamin D reduces bone formation)

Osteoporosis has 3 classifications:

  1. Primary Type 1– this is the most common type. It occurs in women after menopause. Women produce less oestrogen; oestrogen helps the gut to absorb calcium
  2. Primary type 2– or senile osteoporosis – occurs in people over the age of 75 and affects women and men 2:1
  3. Secondary osteoporosis– occurs at any age in women and men equally and is due to chronic medical diseases and chronic use of some medications e.g.:

A) Excessive alcohol- small amounts are good for bone density, large amounts are not

B) Vitamin D deficiency- most people get this from sunlight. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium

C) Tobacco smoking- inhibits all bone production (also breaks down osterogen)

D) Malnutrition- reduced calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, iron, fluoride, copper and vitamin A, K, E, C, D

E) Excessive salt- makes blood acidic and this reduces bone formation

F) Underweight or inactive- physical stress causes bone formation

G) Endurance training in women- stops menstruation

H) Heavy Metals e.g. lead

I) Soft drinks – in women

J) Disorders affecting hormone levels or metabolism e.g. thyroid, ovarian problems, testicular problems

K) Gastro-intestinal disorders- coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis etc

L) Some types of arthritis

M) Blood cancers and disorders

N) Medications e.g. blood thinners, corticosteroids (for asthma)

Preventing Osteoporosis:

Make sure you have as much bone density as possible at the ages of 30-35. This slows down the progress of osteoporosis later in life.

  1.  Moderate physical activity- this stimulates bone growth (30 minutes a day)
  2. Calcium in your food is important- 1000mgs a day. Eat food high in calcium throughout your life. But be aware, excessive calcium supplementation- especially post menopausal- carries a risk of stroke etc, increases development of kidney stones, reduced oestrogen means less absorption of calcium.
  1. Vitamin D- 20 minutes a day of general exposure to sun
  2. Reduce Alcohol
  3. Don’t smoke
  4. Reduce Soft Drinks


Some women use hormone replacement therapy to reduce the progression of osteoporosis, however, there is an increase in the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clotting, breast and uterine cancer.

Other Medication:

Most medications used to treat osteoporosis cause significant side affects e.g. stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea etc, so if you can combat osteoporosis naturally, you will be better off.

We also discussed the importance of having good bone mass in our 30’s, as this is when we reach our peak strength and has an affect on how quickly osteoporosis progresses as we age. The impact of different types of medications including HRT, on bone density and the side affects of these medications were a significant part of our discussion.

The workshop process was very well received by the club members. We had a number of workshops covering different topics. Please follow the link for more detailed information on osteoporosis.

Jodie Blackbourn

Franklin BPW

This entry was posted in Health, Women's issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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