You’ve heard of osteoporosis, the “brittle bone” disease that affects some 8 million American women. What you may not know is how serious the disease often becomes. Every year osteoporosis is responsible for 1.5 million bone fractures, which can cause deformity and death.
One in two women over 50, in fact, will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. The vertebrae, or bones of the spine, are the most likely ones to break due to osteoporosis. Believe it or not, a simple activity like bending over to pick up a bag of groceries can cause a weakened vertebra to collapse. Multiple crush fractures can cause loss of height (as much as six inches) and spinal deformities. Hip breaks as well are often linked to osteoporosis.
Around age 35 or 40 women start to lose bone faster than it’s added. After menopause, the body produces less estrogen, the rate of bone loss quickens dramatically and fractures become more likely.
While some bone loss is inevitable as you get older, you can limit the rate of loss and avoid osteoporosis through regular weight-bearing exercise (like walking or aerobics) and eating a calcium-rich diet.