Health.com—October 6, 2011
In this article orthopedic sports medicine specialist Dr. Sabrina Strickland of Hospital for Special Surgery gives her advice on the prevention of osteoporosis.
Most people know calcium strengthens bones. But there are more than a dozen other ways to fight osteoporosis, the silent, bone-thinning condition that can lead to fractures, back and neck pain, and a loss of up to 6 inches of height over time.
About one in five women over age 50 in the United States have it.
Taking preventive measures is key, as many people with osteoporosis will get bone fractures before they even know they have the disease.
Curb your caffeine
Dr. Strickland says caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, so any substance containing caffeine—whether soda, coffee, or chocolate—should be limited.
Moderate intake—for example 300 milligrams of caffeine a day (which is about one cup of coffee or two cups of tea—is probably not a problem as long as you are getting enough calcium.
"I tell all of my patients to stop smoking because it is terrible for your bones," says Dr. Strickland. Smoking impedes the healing of fractures and reduces the body's ability to make bone, she says.
"When you stop smoking, you are immediately increasing your bone strength and ability to recover from injury."
Women would have great bones if they never hit menopause, Dr. Strickland says. If hormone therapy—usually estrogen taken by itself or in combination with progestin—were looked at strictly through the lens of bone strength, she adds, everyone should take it.
A wider lens has to be used, however. Hormone therapy is rarely prescribed to women unless they cannot take other medications because it can increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
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