Osteoporosis is one of the world's most common chronic diseases. It affects one-third of all women over age 50 (making it more common than breast cancer), and one in five men (making it more common than prostate cancer). A new report released by the International Osteoporosis Foundation examines some of the causes behind osteoporosis, and offers several suggestions for people of all ages on how to avoid the condition later in life.
The report, entitled Move It or Lose It, was published to commemorate World Osteoporosis Day. Among the report's highlights:
* In girls, the amount of bone tissue accumulated between the ages of 11 and 13 equates to approximately the same amount of bone tissue lost in the 30 years following menopause.
* Exercise appears to be the key to increasing (or retaining) bone mass. A study in Finland found that the most physically active young girls gain about 40 percent more bone mass than girls who are the least physically active.
* A study was conducted on postmenopausal women who used small weights to strengthen their back muscles for approximately two years. At a 10-year followup, women who exercised had stronger back muscles than those who did not exercise. Perhaps most importantly, they had reduced the chance of getting a fracture by approximately 300 percent.
* Exercise also greatly reduces the risk of falls in the elderly, an important statistic considering that each year, approximately 40 percent of people over 65 suffer at least one fall. Individually tailored exercise programs and group exercises such as tai chi appear to be the most effective in reducing the incidence of falls and fall-related injuries.
The Move It or Lose It report is available for free on the International Osteoporosis Foundation's Web site (www.osteofound.org). In addition, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about ways to combat osteoporosis, including exercise and rehabilitation programs, and diet and lifestyle modifications. For more information, visit www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/senior/osteoporosis/index.html.
Minne H. Move It or Lose It. How Exercise Helps to Build and Maintain Strong Bones, Prevent Falls and Fractures, and Speed Rehabilitation. Published by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, October 2005.