Facing the Facts About Bone Health
Author: Virginia Leach
Which Bone Loss Prevention Therapies Are Available?
Several medications or forms of therapies are available to prevent further bone loss. Although there are more options than what’s included on the list below, this is a start to begin thinking about what you can integrate to help with bone loss as you get older. The following four medicines and therapies can be incorporated into one’s daily regimen.
- Bisphosphonates – A constant cycle of bone cell creation and breakdown forms bone cells. Bisphosphonates are used to strengthen bone density by reducing the speed of the breakdown process. This type of medicine can have long-lasting effects, but studies have shown that its benefits may be contained in the first five to seven years of taking it.
- Denosumab – This type of therapy is an under the skin injection received twice a year. It slows the breakdown of bones and can be used as a short-term intervention.
- Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT, previously known as HRT) – Women lose estrogen as they age. MHT boosts estrogen levels and reduces the chance of getting osteoporosis after menopause is experienced. Although this therapy indirectly helps prevent bone loss by increasing estrogen, it is associated with an increased risk of other conditions.
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) – The role of SERMs is to perform just like estrogen in the body. By behaving in this way, SERMs can reduce bone loss.
What Are the Health Risks of Bone Loss?
The health risks of bone loss should be understood from two perspectives: short and long-term effects. In the short-term, bones with low density can put you at risk for experiencing fractures. When we are younger, our bones are strong and have a lesser chance of breaking when we fall or get hurt. As we age, the strength of our bones gets weaker. The long-term effects of bone loss can be seen when bone density levels are so low that individuals are diagnosed with osteoporosis. The condition of osteoporosis for postmenopausal women can be an issue if one falls. There is a good chance that falls after menopause are not because you are clumsy. According to Amgen, women can lose up 20% of their bone density after menopause, which can lead to bone fracture. Once severe bone density is lost, lifestyle changes that focus on diet and exercise may no longer improve bone health.
Additional Suggestions to Improve Quality of Life and Bone Loss Prevention
In previous articles in the bone health series, Tigerlily Foundation shared several ways to prevent bone loss through food choices, vitamin supplements, and lifestyle changes. Below is a list of additional suggestions that can improve bone health while addressing other key areas in life.
- Gentle exercise – Participating in physical activity that focuses on posture helps train the mind to slow down and pay close attention to your body movements.
- Improving balance – Connect with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to learn and practice influential exercises.
- Wearing glasses – In many cases, we are our own obstacle to improving our quality of life. For those prescribed glasses or who have considered getting glasses, wearing them can prevent falls that can cause fractures.
- ‘Trip proof’ your home – Things like removing loose rugs, installing handrails in bathrooms and along stairs, and keeping all rooms well-lit can improve safety in the home.
- Shoe type and quality – Wearing shoes that offer support and fit properly can improve your balance and posture over time.
How Can We Support Our Bones Through Their Natural Journey?
Since bone breakdown occurs faster later in life, it is vital to build up bone mass early in life. Individuals in their teens and 20s have a slight advantage in giving their bones some love. Taking specific steps like eating the right foods and exercising early in life can build bone mass. Later in life, when estrogen levels drop, bone care continues to be essential to reduce the risk of too much bone breakdown and developing osteoporosis. Always consult a medical provider to inquire about ways to strengthen your bone health.
Amgen. “Know Your Bones.” Amgen, 8 October 2018. https://www.amgen.com/stories/2018/10/know-your-bones.
Better Health Channel. “Osteoporosis.” Better Health Channel, 3 April 2019. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis.
Tigerlily Foundation. “Bone Health and You.” Tigerlily Foundation, n.d. https://www.tigerlilyfoundation.org/bone-health-and-you/.
Tigerlily Foundation. “Pure Cat Initiative.” Tigerlily Foundation, n.d. https://www.tigerlilyfoundation.org/programs/pure-cat-initiative/