Something You Should Know About Osteoporosis

Who Is At Risk For Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, meaning "porous bones", is a condition that causes bones to slowly thin and weaken, leaving them susceptible to fractures. With an aging population, osteoporosis becomes increasingly common in America. After age 50, 50% of women and 25% of men are at significant risk for osteoporosis.

In the U.S., more than 10 million men and women have osteoporosis. A further 34 million people have low bone mass and are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. About 1.5 million fractures take place every year because of osteoporosis.

Inflammation Accelerates Bone Loss

Osteoporosis, similar to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, is not an ordinary consequence of aging. Instead, chronic degenerative diseases usually arise from long-term nutritional, lifestyle, and environmental imbalances that lead to accumulation of inflammatory toxins.

Although the precise cause of osteoporosis is unknown, the process by which bone becomes porous is well known. Bone remodeling is controlled by a variety of hormones and inflammatory cytokines. When the body is exposed to inflammatory toxins, bone breakdown is overtaking bone buildup or bone resorption takes place at a faster speed than bone making. Both processes could lead to bone loss and osteoporosis.

Clinical studies have revealed that increased inflammatory cytokines are primary mediators of the enhanced bone loss at menopause. Different studies also confirm increases in the risk of developing osteoporosis in various inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), periodontitis, and multiple myeloma.

In periodontal disorder, oral inflammation results in destruction of oral bone and periodontal ligament, ultimately leading to tooth loss. Further evidence indicates that a variety of inflammatory cytokines stimulate osteoclasts, bone cells that take away the bone tissue and cause bone resorption.

Diabetes Drugs May Thin The Bones

A popular class of drugs for type 2 diabetes, i.e., thiazolidinediones (marketed as Avandia and Actos), had already been linked to heart problems. Recent study revealed that taking these diabetes drugs for more than a year thins the bones and increases the risk of fractures in women with type 2 diabetes, who are already at higher risk before taking the drugs.

Control Inflammation May Prevent Bone Loss

Besides calcium, vitamin D, and physical therapy, estrogen-containing hormone replacement therapy is very efficient in reversing the impact of menopause on bone density. But it is currently out of favor due to unwanted side effects, including increased risk of stroke, venous thrombosis and, possibly, dementia. Other treatments include anti-resorptive or anabolic medications.

Based on the findings that chronic inflammation promotes bone breakdown and suppresses bone buildup, control of inflammation is viewed as a new approach to preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.

By keeping inflammation under control, the new approach may:

— Restore balanced growth and function of bone cells;

— Promote bone formation with normal structure and strength;

— Support healthy hormone balance for bone metabolism;

— Remove or deactivate bone-destroying cells.