Encouraged in part by drug marketing, more middle-aged people are getting bone-density tests and taking bone bolstering drugs for osteopenia – bone density that’s somewhat low but not considered osteoporosis. Osteopenia is now referred to as low bone density and a calculator known as FRAX, developed by the World Health Organization, is available on-line to estimate fracture risk. It’s helpful in targeting treatment to those who will benefit from it, and away from those at lower risks.
WHO HAS IT?: A T-score (the result of a bone-density test) of minus 2.5 or worse indicates osteopo- rosis; a score ranging from minus 1 through minus 2.4 is now called low bone density. But the nor- mal range in healthy 30-year-old women is from minus 2 to plus 2, so scores between minus 1 and minus 2 are technically normal.
HOW SERIOUS IS IT?: The risk of fracture depends on how close you are to the cutoff for osteopo- rosis and how rapidly you are losing bone. Bone loss accelerates during menopause and then slows down. But many factors speed bone loss, including smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, the use or oral steroids and rheumatoid arthritis. FRAX takes these and other risk factors into account.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D, do weight-bearing exercises such as walking and muscle strengthening exercises, don’t smoke, limit alcohol, sodium and caffeine and make your home fall proof.
HOW TO AVOID OVERTREATMENT: Women should have a bone-density test at age 65, men at age 70. You or your doctor can enter your information at http://www.shef.ac.uk/frax. Drug treatment is generally recommended for those with low bone density plus either a 3 percent or more risk of a hip fracture or a 20 percent or more risk of any major fracture in the next 10 years, as calculated by FRAX.
Nutrition for Healthy Bones (for adults with or at risk for Osteoporosis)
Literature containing information regarding how important calcium is as a mineral for the bones, how much calcium do you need, how do you make sure you are getting enough, as well as how much cal- cium is available in package foods etc, is readily available on the websites www: bc.womens.ca, or as a printout which can be sent from our office.
Topics covered include:
Vitamin D allows calcium to be taken to the bone. How much Vitamin D do I need?
How do I make sure I am getting enough Vitamin D? Foods and supplements Sources of Vitamin D.
Are other nutrients useful in treating osteoporosis?
Are there things I should do beyond getting adequate nutrients for my bones ?