Osteoporosis is known as the silent thief because it steals bone mass over several years without any symptoms.
It leads to fragile bones and increases the risk of fractures, particularly of the hip, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis can dramatically change people’s lives and even take away their ability to do simple tasks, such as climbing stairs or going for a walk.
Osteoporosis Canada estimates that 1.4 million Canadians are currently suffering from this condition. A quarter of women and one in eight men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is often thought of as an “old person’s disease,” but the fight to prevent it can begin at a young age. Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, a geriatrician with Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, ON, told the 2006 Women’s Health Matters Forum & Expo that teenagers who don’t have healthy bones are more likely to develop the condition.
Building strong bones in your youth is your best defence against osteoporosis. For example, children and young adults can strengthen their bones by participating in impact exercises or field and court sports.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, regardless of your age:
• Take your daily recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D, especially if you are over 50
• Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
• Participate in weight-bearing exercises such as brisk walking, running or dancing throughout your life
• Talk to your doctor about your bone health
• When appropriate, have a bone density test done
For more information, visit www.osteoporosis.ca.
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