Posts Tagged "osteoporosis"

Baby’s [got] back… just because

Posted by on Jun 13, 2011 in weight gain | 1 comment

True confessions.

I love this post. Which I originally ran in January of ’10.

The reason I love it?

I am tired of hearing that women need to do something about their bodies, especially as they age. So this one is for you, and you and you. Because if you’ve got ‘back,’ good on ya!


Maybe Sir Mix-a-Lot has a point. It seems that a large derriere and thighs may actually extend your life. The reason? Researchers say that fat particles that end up in these areas help trap harmful fatty acids in our diet.

Although they are unsure of the exact reasons why, researchers do say that unlike abdominal fat, which has been linked to metabolic syndrome, lower body fat, i.e., fat that accumulates in the thighs and backside, has actually been confirmed to play a protective role in the body. In fact, it not only stores unhealthy fatty acids, but may also release harmful compounds more slowly than say, abdominal fat.

So if you’ve got back, are you in the clear to eat whatever you want? Not so fast. Even though “back” may offer a protective role, there are other reasons to eat and stay healthy – not only to maintain optimal cholesterol levels, but also to counteract some of the natural effects of declining estrogen, such as weakening bones.

(The study appeared in the January 12 online edition of the International Journal of Obesity.)

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Wednesday Bubble: wrinkles and bone density – what’s the connection?

Posted by on Jun 8, 2011 in bone health, menopause, osteoporosis | 5 comments

There’s a connection between wrinkles and bones? When I caught wind of the research, I thought immediately of a Wednesday Bubble. But this one appears to be the real deal.

Researchers presenting at The Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting this past weekend say that severity of facial wrinkles during the early years of menopause may indicate a low bone density (thereby leading to an increased risk for osteoporosis). Wow!

This information comes out of the ongoing Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS), which is looking at the effect of oral and transdermal estrogen therapy on measures of the carotid artery that might indicate thickening of the arteries (and eventual heart disease) as well as the build up of calcium in the blood. A subgroup of 114 women in their late 40s and early 50s and within three years of starting menopause were examined for this part of the trial.

The researchers looked at and scored severity and depth of skin wrinkling based on number of sites on the face and neck. They also measured skin rigidity (or firmness) on the forehead and cheek. Additionally, they evaluatd total body bone mineral density as well as at the lumbar spine and left hip.

The findings? Higher wrinkle scores (meaning more severe wrinkles) were associated with lower bone density measures at all sites, while firmer skin on the forehead and face were related to greater bone density, especially at the hip and spine.

The connection? Pun unintended but the researchers say that collagen, protein that naturally occurs in connective tissue in tendons, ligaments and even bones, is the common factor. They add that as women age, changes in collagen not only contribute to sagging skin and more facial lines but may also negatively affect both the quality and quantity of bone.

Although more research is needed, it might be worthwhile to obtain a dermatologic and bone density assessment at the start of menopause to see where you stand. And then speak to your health practitioner about the need for regular follow up and monitoring to insure that fragile bones don’t lead to fractures. Ultimately, if the link between wrinkling and bone quality is proven, it might eliminate or at least lessen the need for costly DEXA ( dual energy X-ray absorptiometry)  that are currently used to measure how tightly calcium and other minerals are packed into bone.

Who would thunk that wrinkles could actually be useful?!

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Wednesday Bubble: is there a connection between dry mouth and osteoporosis?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2011 in bone health, dry mouth, osteoporosis | 0 comments

This week’s bubble is neither burstable or good news. But it is important:

Dry mouth and bone mineral density appear to be related.

Say what?!!!

A bit of background is needed…

Osteoporosis is fast becoming a major health problem and as I’ve written time and again on this blog, is a significant characteristic of menopause, namely as the result of waning estrogen levels that lead to an imbalance between the build up and turnover of bone cells. Parathyroid hormone and cortisol have also been linked to bone turnover.

Dry mouth (i.e. a feeling of dryness in the mouth and need to use liquids while eating) and burning mouth syndrome (i.e. burning in the tongue or oral mucus membranes and taste alterations) are also common during menopause, affecting up to 40% of women. Until now, experts have not been able to adequately determine why these symptoms occur and more importantly, effective management strategies.

The link? Recent data have shown that estrogen levels may be significantly lower and both parathyroid and cortisol levels significantly higher in menopausal women who complain of dry mouth. Moreover, as the results of a new study in Menopause show, there may be a true relationship between these two conditions and that bone loss may be the actual cause of oral dryness and related symptoms. In this study, researchers evaluated 60 women in menopause (mean age 56) for the presence and severity of dry mouth and then based on their results, divided them into two groups. Dry mouth was confirmed by responses to a scientific questionnaire and collections of saliva. The researchers also measured bone mineral density at the spine.

Importantly, the participants were not particularly active and none engaged in any sports activity, except walking. The women were also matched by body mass index, age, or years of menopause. And yet, women with low bone mineral density, including relationship to other women in the same age group and 30 years younger, were significantly more likely to experience dry mouth and had significantly less saliva when their appetites were not stimulated.

Clearly, more research is needed. However, there are some things you can do now. The first strategy to combat osteoporosis and bone loss is to get measured for bone loss and disease markers. Steps like calcium supplementation, a healthy diet and regular exercise are critical. And if you suffer from dry mouth? You may want to speak to your dentist about a referral for a bone mineral density scan or better yet, have him or her contact your gynecologist or regular health practitioner for a pow wow. Not only may you help your bones, but you may actually change that dry feeling.

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Your bone health: the role of diet

Posted by on Mar 11, 2011 in bone health | 1 comment

Osteoporosis. That scary condition that can result in bone fracture in up to 40% of US women after the age of 50. In the UK, it’s been estimated at least half of women over age fifty will have some sort of osteoporotic fracture. So it’s truly no laughing matter.

I’ve tried to cover osteoporosis extensively since starting Flashfree and you can find many of those posts here. However, I am especially intrigued by novel research that demonstrates that dietary pattern, that is, particular combinations of foods that we eat, may influence bone turnover, a term used to describe the balance between bone formation and bone loss (a process that goes on constantly through our lives) resulting in a net loss or gain in bone tissue. Moreover, dietary pattern may also specifically influence bone resorption, i.e., the process by which cells called osteoclasts break down bone so that minerals (like calcium) can be released into the bloodstream.

The researchers, who studied 3,236 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 59, say that to date, most research has focused on link between specific nutrients and bone health, nutrients such as vitamin D or calcium. However, they point out that most individuals eat a variety of foods the contain combinations of nutrients. Therefore, they believed that there might be value in actually examining how the whole diet and the presence or absence of certain nutrients, affects the skeleton.

Consequently, they took initial body mass index measures, bone mineral density measures, assessed dietary habits by consumption of 98 foods, how often they were consumed and by portion size, and then, based on evaluation of how often these foods were consumed by the participants, further characterized them as the following dietary patterns: “healthy,” “processed,” “bread/butter,” “fish and chips” (the study took place in Scotland!) and “snack food.”

Overall, the women in the study actually consumed a large proportion of fruits and vegetables and on average, at least three cups of tea daily. Bread and potatoes tended to comprise the greatest source (at least percentage-wise) of “energy” to the diet. To a lesser extent, yogurt, cream, fats, oils, biscuits and milk also contributed a substantial amount of energy to the diet. However:

  • Of the five types of dietary patterns, a healthy diet was most associated with better bone health, and specifically, a reduction in bone resorption. Specific foods included fruits and vegetables, white meat, white and oily fish and dairy, all nutrients that have been previously associated with beneficial bone health.This combination of foods also provided adequate protein.
  • Conversely, eating mainly a ‘processed foods’ (i.e. cereal, processed meats, cake, desserts, dried fruits, soup, bread, and fats and oils) diet, and a “snack foods” diet (i.e. candy/cookies, potato chips, sauces) were both associated with reductions in bone mineral density.
  • The results didn’t change when factors, such as whether or not women were taking drugs to fight osteoporosis, were taken into account.

The bottom line is that when it comes to bone health, it’s important to eat healthy, pack your diet with fruits and vegetables, and stay away from junk and processed foods. Focus on foods that are risk in calcium and balanced levels of good protein. Although this may seem intuitive, the findings emphasize that  a poor diet may ultimately result in poor bone health and increase fracture risk as you age.

Time to restock the fridge? No bones about it!

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Soy. Is it safe?

Posted by on Jan 3, 2011 in diet, herbal medicine, osteoporosis | 0 comments

For years, researchers have been exploring the potential of soy isoflavones — naturally-occurring plant estrogens — for alleviating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, atrophy and bone loss. Thus far, certain components of soy, including genestein and S-equol have shown the most promise. However, are they safe?  And, as the adoption of soy as a viable alternative to risk-ridden hormone replacement therapy continues to grow, and women turn to supplements rather than food-based soy, is there anything that they need to worry about in terms of side effects?

Researchers recently evaluated this question in a study of 403 postmenopausal women who took  either 80 mg soy tablets, 120 mg soy tablets or placebo tablet daily for  two years. The particular type of soy isoflavones used were hypocotyl isoflavones, which are a byproduct of soy protein and (very rich in daidzein – the second most plentiful isoflavone in soy. The effects of the supplements were measured at the study’s start, at one year and at the end via blood tests and a well-woman examination (i.e. mammogram, pap smear, x-rays to measure bone density). A smaller group of women also had ultrasounds done to determine any possible effects on the lining of the uterus or development of fibroids.

Although the primary goal of the study was to determine the effects of this type of soy supplement on osteoporosis and bone loss, the researchers discovered that taking soy supplements during this time period did not present any major risk to health and did not affect thyroid function. Although one participant developed breast cancer during the study and one, endometrial cancer, 1) utrasounds in the subgroup of women who received them did not show any uterine thickening and 2) the rate of cancer development in this study, only two women over a two year time period, was considerably lower than statistically likely in a general population of women. Both of these factors support the contention that soy isoflavones are not likely to promote either cancers.

So, is soy safe over the long-term? It appears that it is. HOWEVER, bear in mind that the type of soy used in this study is are very different that the type that is commonly sold over the counter, which commonly contain higher percentages of genistein, the most plentiful isoflavone component in soy.

And what about osteoporosis? This particular paper did not address those specific results, although others have. Thus far, the results have been mixed. However, this particular study, better known as OPUS (Osteoporosis Prevention Using Soy)is one of the largest and most comprehensive to date and those findings are likely to come to light soon.

In the interim, if you are going to be taking soy in supplement form, be mindful that your exposure is likely to be as one to four times that a typical Asian diet and as much as 100 times that of a typical Western diet. While these level do not appear to be harmful, herbal and plant medicines are not without risk so as always, the rule of thumb is be vigilant and speak to a health practitioner first.

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