Better Bones - As America ages, osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones...
June 11, 2005 05:24 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (email@example.com)
Subject: Better Bones
Better Bones by Deborah Daniels Energy Times, March 13, 2004
As America ages, osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, grows into an ever-expanding problem. Currently, it affects more than 44 million Americans.
Women are in special danger; of those who suffer weak bones, about 35 million are women. This problem causes a huge amount of damage-physical, emotional and financial. The national bill for hospital and nursing care for osteoporosis victims tops $17 billion a year, about $47 million a day.
Odds are, your bones need help. According to the National Institutes of Health, the bones of more than half of all Americans over age 50 are weak enough to put them at risk of osteoporosis. Weak bones linked to osteoporosis continue to present a serious risk to health. A study published in the British Medical Journal shows that fractures in older people are just as life-threatening today as they were two decades ago (2003; 327:771-5).
When researchers looked at broken legs among more than 30,000 people over the age of 65, they found that just as many people die today after these kinds of bone breaks as they did during the 1980s.
Their findings emphasize how important strong bones are to survival. This study showed that breaking your leg at age 65 or older increases your risk of death more than 12 times. And these high death rates, according to the researchers, reinforce the fact that preventing osteoporosis saves lives.
Blowing Smoke Through Bones
While many bone experts blame the high rate of osteoporosis on sedentary lifestyles and foods low in calcium, Australian research has turned up another bone-weakening villain: smoking. According to these scientists, smoking may be the most destructive lifestyle habit that destroys bone in older women. While other studies have pointed to smoking as a factor in bone loss, this most recent study purports to show that smoking may be one of the most important influences on weak bones (J Bone Min Res 9/03). " This will be an important step forward in the management of osteoporosis, since the results of this study can be used to improve current approaches to preventing bone loss," says researcher John Wark, PhD.
Dr. Wark's study found that older smokers are particularly prone to weak bones. While smoking is always bad for bone strength, after menopause tobacco smoke seems to exert an even deadlier affect on your skeletal support.
" [T]he damaging effects of cigarette smoking may well have been underestimated in the past," says Dr. Wark. When you inhale cigarette smoke, your lungs are exposed to about 500 harmful gases, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, benzene, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. The infusion of these gases cuts back on the available oxygen used for building bone and other tissues.
Along with these gases, small particles containing chemicals like anatabine, anabase, nicotine, monicotine and other carcinogens also filter into the lungs. Studies (Acad Ortho Surg 2001; 9:9) indicate that bathing the body in these chemicals results in:
While it's never too late to build more bone, the best time for laying down a dependable musculoskeletal foundation is before age 30. That way, as you get older, your strong bones can better resist the weakening effects of aging. Ipriflavone is a natural chemical that has been found to help protect bone. Researchers believe that this supplement can help bones strengthen by absorbing more calcium (Calc Tissue Int 2000; 67:225)
Other ways to make bones stronger include:
Weak bones can put a severe crimp in your lifestyle and put your life at risk. How can you tell what shape your bones are in? Health practitioners can help you get the appropriate bone density test. But the tone of your muscles are also a good indicator: Exercise to tone those muscles and chances are you're building your bones, too. All you have to do is get moving!