Author: Virginia Leach
It seems like we are getting busier by the day and cannot add another thing to our task list. Some of us are running to and from meetings, waiting for our kids in the carpool lane, and taking care of our parents! The last thing we’re thinking about is ourselves, but that can’t be. As we grow older, we must get creative in managing our health. You might not believe your bone health should be at the top of your radar, but, after all, how many of us have known family and friends who have struggled with a broken hip or a compressed spine?
For individuals managing a breast cancer diagnosis, you have likely been given valuable strategies to manage your emotional health and specific physical challenges. In addition, health care providers and medical professionals often discuss essential factors such as regulating stress levels and being mindful of body weight. In addition to these crucial elements regarding your body, bone health should be a focus when considering breast cancer management, especially if you are undergoing treatment.
Is There a Link Between Bone Health and Breast Cancer?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. Those who have osteoporosis are at a higher risk of developing bone fractures. Many factors affect osteoporosis risk, including diet, exercise, and genetics.
Hormone levels play a role in osteoporosis risk as well. Estrogen is one such hormone, and higher levels have reduced bone breakdown. When estrogen levels decrease, the breakdown of bones can increase. While some bone breakdown is normal and natural, too much breakdown with insufficient rebuilding can result in osteoporosis and put you at a higher risk of bone fractures.
The breasts and the bones are both estrogen-sensitive organs. Therefore, more estrogen exposure means less risk for osteoporosis. However, more estrogen in the blood may also indicate an increased risk of breast cancer, specifically in women after menopause. Additionally, higher lifetime exposure to estrogen may increase breast cancer risk.
Due to the estrogen link, higher bone mineral density (BMD) is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Scholars at Johns Hopkins Medicine researched a test to uncover osteoporosis and osteopenia. A bone density test is conducted to “measure bone mineral content and density.” The test can be completed by utilizing “X-rays, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA), or a special CT scan that uses computer software to determine bone density of the hip or spine.” The DEXA scan is thought to be the scan that provides the most correct results
What Can Be Done to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Regardless of where you are on your breast cancer journey, making small lifestyle changes can help you support your bone health. Some things you can do include:
- Participating in weight-bearing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight such as walking, dancing, and gardening
- Incorporating vitamins in your diet like calcium, magnesium, and OMEGA-3 supplements
- Including curcumin powder in your meals throughout the day
- Exploring non-traditional methods of wellness such as acupuncture and red-light therapy
- Exposing your skin to adequate sunlight safely to get enough vitamin D or taking a supplement
- Maintaining a healthy weight and taking vital steps if you become underweight
Are There Opportunities to Create Healthy Lifestyles with the Tigerlily Foundation?
Tigerlily Foundation’s Pure Cat Initiative was launched in honor of Catherine Odderstol, a sassy yogi. She danced through life, spread light and joy with everyone she met, and left us the gift of her eternal gypsy soul. Cat was dedicated to helping others have a mind, body, spirit approach to health and wellness. Cat has inspired us to honor her SPIRIT legacy by offering access to programs that encourage them to light up life, focus on faith and not fear.
Currently, there are four virtual opportunities available for participation. First, learn how to be more flexible with Instructor Valencia Robinson for yoga sessions on Mondays at 4:00 pm EST . Next, have some fun and get moving on your in-home dance floor with Instructor Joyce Stanley for Zumba sessions on Wednesdays at 9:30 am EST. Then, wind down your week with a wellness session designed for relaxing the mind and body with stretches to soothing sounds with Instructor Michaela Bekenn on the first Friday each month at 8:00 pm EST. Finally, get excited to dance the night away with Tigerlily’s one and only DJ Dimepiece on Instagram Live on the first Saturday of each month at 9:30 pm EST. Join one class or all four!
The Tigerlily Foundation is committed to your health and wellness journey. Be proactive about your bone health, and always seek guidance from your physician, oncologist, or physical therapist on ways to improve your overall health and lifestyle.
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.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Bone Densitometry.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/bone-densitometry.
Redjuvenate Light Therapy Center. “About.” Redjuvenate Light Therapy Center, n.d. https://redjuvenate.com/redjuvenate-about/.
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/.