Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density of bones progressively decreases, making an individual more prone to bone fractures. In normal bone, there are cells that form bone, osteoblasts and other cells that break down bone, osteoclasts. When osteoclast activity is increased relative to osteoblast activity, this results in decreased bone mineral density. It is possible to have osteoporosis in one part of the skeleton and not elsewhere. The areas that are usually affected are the hip bone and spine. Although calcium is important for bone formation, it is the relative level of calcium compared to other proteins and vitamins that is of more importance. Type I osteoporosis is caused by hormonal changes (i.e. decreased oestrogen after menopause which accelerates the breakdown of bone). Type II is linked to a dietary deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D. Type III is caused by drug treatments for illnesses unrelated to osteoporosis.
Contributing factors: peak bone mass, sex hormones, race (Asian or northern European heritage), insufficient calcium, lack of weight-bearing exercise, smoking, late puberty, early menopause, family history of the disease, hyperthyroidism, chronic liver or kidney disease and drugs ( long term use of corticosteroids, anti-seizure medication and anticoagulants).
Who to consult: Dietician, endocrinologist, GP, herbalist, homoeopath, rheumatologist, naturopath, physical therapist, physiotherapist, yoga practitioner.