Each year, tens of millions of people are affected by osteoporosis —a disease of progressive bone loss associated with an increased risk of fractures, pain, disability, loss of independence and even death. Although osteoporosis is very common, many myths prevent individuals from seeking the treatment or risk-reduction strategies they need. Below are 6 common myths about osteoporosis.
Myth #1: Only women need to worry about osteoporosis.
While osteoporosis affects more women than men, men are still at risk for developing a fracture related to this disease. Up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Myth #2: People with osteoporosis can feel their bones getting weaker.
Osteoporosis is considered a "silent disease" because you cannot feel any noticeable pain or loss of strength as you lose bone density. While some people learn they have the disease after they lose height from one or more broken bones in the spine, or their upper back begins to curve forward, breaking a bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis.
Myth #3: Osteoporosis is an inevitable part of aging.
Aging and osteoporosis do not go hand-in-hand. There are many things you can proactively do throughout your life to prevent osteoporosis. Even if the disease is detected, it can be managed and potentially reduced if you keep your bones healthy and strong.
Myth #4: If you drink milk and exercise, you are not at risk for osteoporosis.
Although a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and regular physical activity are critical strategies for reducing risk for osteoporosis, there are other factors that cause this disease. These include low body weight, a family history of osteoporosis, menopause, excess smoking, and caffeine and alcohol intake.
Myth #5: Children and teens do not need to worry about their bone health.
About 90 percent of bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys. Children and teens need to focus on building strong bones while they’re young in order to prevent osteoporosis.
Myth #6: There are no cures for osteoporosis.
There are a variety of medications available to help slow the progression of osteoporosis and lower the risk of fracture. These medications can increase bone density by a few percent per year over the course of three to four years. Diagnosing osteoporosis is extremely important as it enables you to develop stronger bones with treatment, rather than live with the disease unaware of its negative impact on your health.
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