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Eat smart, pump up bone health

Calorie-crunching and inactivity have made osteoporotic fractures of the hip, wrists and spine common

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 01:57 IST

Over A fourth of hip fractures reported in Delhi last year occurred in people under 60 years, found a study of 100 consecutive hip fractures treated at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Max Institute of Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement in Saket, and Sant Parmanand Hospital. “We were surprised because hip fractures are associated with osteoporosis, a condition that usually occurs in older people,” says Dr Ambrish Mithal, who did the study along with Harvard Medical School researcher Ruchira Jha.

In fact, orthopaedic wards of most hospitals now get far more osteoporosis-related fractures than broken bones caused by serious accidents. “Osteoporotic fractures of the hip, spine and wrists are the most common, and are usually caused by minor falls at home. We get more women than men,” says Dr S. K. S. Marya, director, Max Institute of Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement, Saket. The Delhi hip fracture study, which was presented at the European Calcified Tissue Society meet last year, bears this out: 58 per cent hip fractures happen to women, who start losing bone mass rapidly after menopause.

Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are to blame, says Dr P. K. Dave, former director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and current chairman of Rockland Hospital. “Dieting has become fairly common among the young, who do not realise that maximum bone mass is built till the age of 40, after which the body starts losing bone mass, making the skeletal system weaker,” says Dr Dave. Apart from eating adequate calcium, he advises people to adopt some form of brisk activity. “Not only does exercise build muscle that supports the bones but also adds to bone mass,” says Dr Dave. A combination of light weight-training and aerobic exercise such as brisk walks works best.

Though post-menopausal women account for 80 per cent of osteoporosis cases, men are also at risk. Men’s risk, however, begins 5-10 years later than women as testosterone levels do not fall as abruptly as estrogen in older women.

The dos are not hard to remember: take calcium tablets and vitamins D and K supplements after the age of 50, stop smoking as it makes bones lose calcium, and do weight-bearing exercises. “You cannot build bone mass after 50 years, even though you can stop further loss with supplementation and treatment,” warns Marya.

First Published: Feb 05, 2006 01:57 IST