"In 1993, the Lancet medical journal reported that the remains of an 18th-century woman were found beneath a church. Studies showed that these bones were stronger and more dense than the bones of any modern women, either pre-menopausal or post-menopausal. Something in our modern lifestyle is clearly affecting the density and strength of our bones, and only now are we beginning to understand what that might be.
"While traditionally considered to be a women’s disease, osteoporosis is also found in men, although normally to a lesser degree. In this chapter, I’ll examine why women are more likely to get osteoporosis and take a look at why this condition has become so prevalent. Lifestyle is one of the main factors that is within your control, and adopting a few simple changes can go a long way towards protecting the health of your bones.
What is osteoporosis?
"The word osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’; in other words, bones that are filled with tiny pores, or holes. Our bones change constantly – breaking down and being rebuilt as part of the living process. Two kinds of cells are important for this process, and they are known as osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclasts renew old bone by dissolving or resorbing it, leaving an empty space. The osteoblasts then fill this empty space with new bone.
"If the rate of renewal does not equal the rate of breakdown, bone loss occurs. If this continues over years, the result is osteoporosis.
Are there any symptoms?
"Unfortunately, the answer to this question may be no. Osteoporosis is often called a 'silent disease' because the first sign of the condition can be a fracture resulting from a minor accident. One patient told me that she discovered she had osteoporosis after breaking her ribs while sneezing. It has even been suggested that the majority of osteoporosis-related accidents are the result of the bone breaking, causing a fall, rather than the reverse.
"This one of the reasons why testing – and prevention – are so important.
What is the cause?
"There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. These include..."
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