Thyroid disorders, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a number of other illnesses can raise your osteoporosis risk. Here’s how to protect your bones.
A number of diseases and conditions have the potential to increase your risk of osteoporosis, either as a result of the disease itself or because certain medications used to treat the illness can lead to bone loss. Here are some things you should know about these conditions and their osteoporosis risks.
Osteoporosis Risk: Endocrine Disorders
“Diabetes is now associated with an increased risk of hip fracture,” says Mary Bouxsein, PhD, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, Harvard School of Medicine, Deaconess Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, Mass. People with diabetes should keep their blood sugar in control and take steps to guard against falls and fractures in the home.
Other endocrine disorders that increase your osteoporosis risk include:
- Hyperthyroidism — a condition in which too much thyroid hormone is present in the body, either because your body is producing too much or because you are taking too much thyroid hormone medication
- Hyperparathyroidism — a condition that occurs when too much parathyroid hormone is present in the body, speeding up bone loss
- Long-term menstrual irregularities that result in lowered estrogen levels, a history of late onset of menstruation, and early onset of menopause; all women are at higher risk for osteoporosis after menopause, no matter their age when menopause occurs
- Use of medication to block the production of sex hormones
- Long term use of medroxyprogesterone acetate (DepoProvera), the contraceptive injection
Osteoporosis Risk: Gastrointestinal Disorders
Conditions that make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients through the digestive process can also increase osteoporosis risk. “Diseases that affect the intestines, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, all increase the risk of osteoporosis,” says Felicia Cosman, MD, Medical Director of the Clinical Research Center at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y., and clinical director for the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Celiac disease is another such condition. There is also some concerns that proton pump inhibitors — prescription medications for gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd) — may increase osteoporosis risk if taken for a long time.
Osteoporosis Risk: Hematologic Disorders
Disorders of the blood and bone marrow can increase your risk for osteoporosis because of their bone-weakening effects. One example is multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects bone marrow, the soft tissue inside bones in which blood cells develop.
Osteoporosis Risk: Rheumatologic Disorders and Asthma
“Anybody who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is taking long-term glucocorticoid therapy [such as cortisone or prednisone] is at increased risk for osteoporosis,” says Dr. Bouxsein.
Note that glucocorticoid medications are also often used to control inflammation in people with asthma, putting them at increased risk for osteoporosis as well.
Osteoporosis Risk: Other Conditions to Be Aware of
These health problems can also contribute to your level of osteoporosis risk:
- Anorexia nervosa. This eating disorder may contribute to osteoporosis risk by preventing your body from getting enough nutrients and also by temporarily stopping menstruation.
- Bed rest. Being in motion is important for bone health. As a result, “anything associated with immobility will increase osteoporosis risk,” says Bouxsein. For most people, this is resolved once they can get up and get moving again.
- Cancer treatments. Certain cancer treatments, such as the drug tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and other hormonal therapy drugs, can increase your osteoporosis risk.
- Depression. Although the connection between depression and bone loss is not yet clear, people who suffer from depression seem to be at increased risk for osteoporosis.
- Organ recipients. Some of the anti-rejection medications used to help organ recipients’ bodies accept their transplant can also increase osteoporosis risk.
- Anti-seizure medications. Phenobarbital, for example, can cause bone loss and may lead to osteoporosis in some people.
- Vitamin D deficiency. If you are lacking in vitamin D, your body may not be able to absorb enough calcium from your diet to maintain the health of your bones.
Osteoporosis Risk: How to Protect Yourself
If you have health conditions that add to your osteoporosis risk, take the following steps to control that risk:
- Talk to your doctor for osteoporosis prevention advice
- Follow a bone healthy diet (Supplement as well)and exercise plan
- Take steps to prevent falls and fractures in your home and beyond
Knowing about health conditions that can increase osteoporosis risk will help you better understand how to deal with the problem. Eat a healthy diet that strengthens your bones, supplements and exercise.