A crippling disease that is preventable and reversible
By John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins
Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among American women, osteoporosis is the disease they are most likely to develop as they age. Four out of ten white women in the U.S. will fracture a hip, spine, or forearm due to osteoporosis. As many as five out of ten will develop small fractures in their spine, causing great pain and a shrinking in height. This amounts to 15 to 20 million people affected by a crippling and painful disease that is almost entirely preventable and reversible.
Osteoporosis is a gradual decrease in bone mass and density that can begin as early as the teen years. Bone mass should be at its peak in our late 20s or early 30s, but thanks to a poor diet and lack of exercise, many women are already losing bone in their 20s. Bone loss occurs more rapidly in women than in men, especially right around the time of menopause, when an abrupt drop in estrogen and progesterone accelerates bone loss.
When you think of your bones you may imagine a dead skeleton, but your bones are living tissue, just like the rest of your body, and they need a good supply of nutrients and regular exercise. New bone is constantly being made, while old bone is being reabsorbed and excreted by the body. Our larger long bones, such as our arm bones and leg bones, are very dense, and they are completely replaced about every 10-12 years. Our less dense bones, such as our spine and the ends of our long bones, are less dense and turn over every 2-3 years. Thus, as you can see, we always have the opportunity to be creating better bone for ourselves.