How are your bones? Healthy bones help us stay mobile, anchor our muscles, protect our organs and store calcium. But many of us don’t think about our bones until we break one or a doctor presents the bad news: “You have low bone mass (or osteopenia or osteoporosis).” Osteopenia is the term for a condition of low bone mass, as bones become weaker. Osteoporosis (‘porous bone’) is the term for a condition of weak and brittle bones. That increases the risk of fractures … so bone health is really important!
How many do you know about bone health? Take our quiz and check out the answers below:
- In adulthood, the rest of you get older, but your bones stay the same. True or False?
- Women are more at risk than men. True or False?
- Osteoporosis affects everyone equally after a certain age. True or False?
- Men need to worry less about osteoporosis. True or False?
Advances in treatment
- When low bone mass becomes severe enough, treatment options include a wide variety of medications. Some are anti-resorptive (prevent bone resorption) and others are anabolic (create new bone formation). Now some doctors are rethinking the order in which to use these types of medications, says Felicia Cosman, * MD, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University. “Most doctors have used the anabolic after the anti-resorptive, ”she says. It may be time to reverse the order, at least in the risk group [those with recent fractures]That̵
- What about the risks of osteoporosis drugs? One risk is an atypical femoral fracture associated with some antiresorptants; another is osteonecrosis of the jaw (death of cells in the jaw bone) linked to bisphosphonates (a type of anti-resorption agent). Both risks are rare, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
To maintain bone health, you can do the following:
- Get plenty of calcium. The RDA for women 50 plus and men 70 plus is 1,200 milligrams per day. For men ages 60 to 70, that’s 1,000. (A cup of milk has about 300 mg.)
- Vitamin D is also crucial. For adults aged 19 to 70, the RDA is 600 international units per day; 800 for adults aged 71 and over. Ask your doctor; he can recommend higher levels.
- Provide weight-bearing exercises – walking, jogging, climbing stairs. Balance exercises are also a smart idea, as most hip fractures are the result of falls. Senior Planet offers many online fitness classes (see here); our Fit Fusion class online Monday and Wednesday (read more here) can also help build muscle and bone strength.
- Do not smoke; limit alcohol. Women should not drink more than one glass per day; men, two.
- Ask your doctor if you need a bone density test or a blood test to check vitamin D levels.
- False. Your bones age with you. Maximum bone mass is usually reached around the age of 30. After that, your bones still “remodel”, building new bone while breaking down old bone, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain.
- That’s right. Women are at higher risk because they have less bone tissue than men. Those who are extremely thin or have a small body frame are more likely to have low bone mass because there is less bone mass to deplete as you age.
- False. Those of white or Asian descent are at higher risk than others. Having a family history also increases the risk.
- FalseLow bone mass isn’t just for women. About 25% of fracture patients are men, and a new study led by Dr. Felicia Cosman *, looking at nearly 10,000 men with fractures, shows that older men with fractures are often underdiagnosed and under-treated.
* Full Disclosure: Dr. Cosman reports counseling and speaking fees from Amgen and Radius Health, makers of osteoporosis drugs.
This article provided by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 right away.