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How to reduce the risk of osteoporosis?

How to reduce the risk of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis refers to a disease that affects the bones by weakening them. This pathology affects 3 times more women than men after 50 years and has the consequence of significantly increasing the risk of falls. Osteoporosis is the cause of 400,000 fractures per year in France. A healthy lifestyle, in particular based on a balanced diet and the practice of regular physical activity, reduces the risk of the onset of osteoporosis and limits its consequences on health.

What is osteoporosis? Who is affected by this disease?

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the skeleton. More specifically, it causes a decrease in bone density and results in the deterioration of the internal structure of the bone itself. Because of osteoporosis, the bones become more fragile and the risks of fractures of the vertebrae, the neck of the femur, the wrist, etc., increase even though they are not caused by major trauma in people who are suffering from this disease.

The diagnosis of osteoporosis is made in particular through the analysis of bone mineral density (BMD) during a medical examination called "bone densitometry".

Osteoporosis most often occurs after the age of 50 and mostly in women where it is 2 to 3 times more common than in men, due to menopause, especially if this period of life when women experience the their ovulation stops and their periods disappear early, i.e. before the age of 40. Osteoporosis, which is a disease linked to aging, affects 39% of women who are around 65 years old, 70% of those aged 80 and over, according to the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) .

On the other hand, certain treatments based on corticosteroids, taken over a long period of time to treat pathologies such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease for example, or drugs which aim to lower or stop the secretion of hormones In the event of diseases such as endometriosis, breast or prostate cancer, the effect is a loss of bone density with the consequence of the more common occurrence of osteoporosis. Endocrine conditions such as hyperthyroidism can also be linked to osteoporosis.

The medical treatment of osteoporosis consists of strengthening the bone mass, slowing down its deterioration, and above all limiting the risk of fractures by taking medications such as bisphosphonates, raxolifene, teriparatide and denosumab.

How to prevent and reduce the risk of osteoporosis?

A healthy lifestyle, in particular based on a balanced diet and regular physical activity, reduces the risk of osteoporosis occurring, even if genetic factors also come into play to explain that this disease appears in some people.

Favor a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

To prevent the onset of osteoporosis after the age of 50, dietary habits taken from an early age play an important role.

Thus, adopting a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D from childhood helps to build and consolidate bone mass. As you age, it is just as important to continue to eat well, despite popular belief on this subject, but above all to promote a diet adapted to the nutritional needs that change with age.

Calcium, essential for the good health of the body, taken in the form of dairy products or, for example, certain mineral waters which are rich in it, must remain present in the diet of seniors to prevent or reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

In the same way, this disease can sometimes be avoided if his diet is based on vitamin D intake, as is possible with fatty fish, butter, or the regular consumption of egg yolks. Many elderly people are deficient in vitamin D, in particular those whose mobility is reduced and who cannot take advantage of the sunshine outside, an important source of this vitamin, as well as elderly people who eat poorly.

Calcium associated with vitamin D, which is also present in the body thanks to the effects of UVB rays from light, contribute, by binding to the bones, to strengthening bone mass.

Watch your weight

If osteoporosis affects many people after 50, and especially women, people who are excessively thin have an even greater risk of being exposed to this disease.

We speak of significant thinness when the body mass index is less than 19. This index is measured by dividing the weight (in kg) by the height (in cm) squared.

Have regular physical activity

Physical activity contributes from an early age to build up good bone mass. Continuing to be active as you get older is also just as important to keep your bones healthy, but also to strengthen your muscle mass and thus in particular avoid falls for people weakened by osteoporosis in particular.

Certain types of physical activity where the feet and legs support the whole weight of the body are to be favored to prevent osteoporosis. This is why it is recommended, for example, to walk regularly, to climb stairs, to run, or even to dance!

So-called "resistance" exercises, that is to say exercises that work on the bones, such as those that can be done with dumbbells or stretching with rubber bands, are also recommended to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Reduce alcohol consumption and stop smoking

In order to prevent osteoporosis or prevent this disease from developing, certain bad drinking habits should be prescribed.

First, it is recommended to reduce alcohol consumption, which is an aggravating factor for this disease because alcohol helps to reduce bone mineral density. The public authorities thus recommend consuming 10 standard glasses of alcohol per week, without exceeding 2 glasses per day, and setting aside days in the week without alcohol consumption.

Smoking is also an aggravating factor in the onset of osteoporosis. As with all other diseases, and health in general, it is strongly advised not to smoke to avoid being affected by this disease.

Learn to prevent falls

The main consequence of osteoporosis is an increased risk of falls in people who have this disease. Thus, in total in France, osteoporosis, which greatly weakens the bones, is the cause of nearly 400,000 fractures each year.

This is why, in order to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, it is important to prevent falls by adapting your living space as well as possible by avoiding slippery floor coverings, installing sufficient lighting, suitable furniture, etc.

Certain actions and behaviors are also recommended to reduce the risk of falls, especially for people with osteoporosis:getting up slowly from your bed or chair, taking care of your feet and your health in general, or practice a physical activity intended to preserve its good balance.