I went to Philadelphia in June and sat in a lecture given by Dr. Barbara Steinberg, known for her talks on Women’s Health. It was a real eye opener for me. Here are things she taught me about osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system that results in low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. As a consequence there are increases in bone fragility and bone fracture. It is surmised that 44 million people either have it or at risk for it. Of this number 80% are female. There are estimated 2 million bone fractures related to osteoporosis. Approximately 19 billion dollars are spent annually in health care cost related to osteoporosis.

dreamstime_xs_24992607Hip fractures account for approximately 15-17% of all osteoporotic fractures. Research shows that 24% of women and 33% of men who have an osteoporotic hip fracture will die within one year of it. Of those who survive 25% will be confined to a long term care facility and 50% will never walk independently again. I must admit these figures took my breath away and these numbers don’t account for the psychological ramifications that occur as well.

And, yes, osteoporosis affects the mouth. The jaw is susceptible to accelerated alveolar bone resorption which leads to increased tooth loss. Loss of teeth translates to dentures. Continued bone loss due to lack of teeth and osteoporosis then further results in loose dentures , poor nutrition and further psychological effects among other things. Osteoporosis does not cause periodontal disease but will exacerbate the condition. So once again meticulous home care is imperative.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include being female of the Caucasian or Asian race, older, a family history of it and poor health. There are multiple diseases and medications that increase your risk factor as well. Unfortunately these previously listed risk factors are mostly unchangeable. But there are many other risk factors that can be potentially modified. Some of these modifiable factors are current cigarette smoking, low calcium intake (lifelong), excessive alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine intake, lack of physical activity and regular cola drink consumption.

There are medications that can help prevent and treat osteoporosis. They are deemed very effective but not always without risks. Many in the medical community feel the low risk of negative side effects outweighs the negative squella of an osteoporotic event.  Osteoporosis medication has been around for 15 years with new ones being introduced. Your physician can help you decide which the best choice is for you along with other lifestyle modifications. Scheduling to see your physician to discuss your risks and to be tested for osteoporosis is highly recommended.

It is believed that osteoporosis is preventable! A good healthy diet and exercise is of utmost importance. This needs to be a lifestyle that starts at a young age and continues throughout life. But even if you are not so young these changes will benefit you also. And let’s not forget to teach our children especially our daughters. For more information on prevention go to www.nof.org or www.osteofound.org

So think twice if you really need that daily caffeinated cola- the long term effects may not be worth it. Your bones and smile will thank you.