When you are a kid, adults tell you to drink your milk for healthy bones. Hopefully if you have listened to them, you will have strong and healthy bones, but if you didn’t get enough calcium, you could develop osteoporosis. African-American women have a tendency to be more prone to osteoporosis than white women.
Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease of the bones that is characterized by brittle bones that break easily. It is a silent disease because symptoms and pain usually do not show up until it is too late and a bone is fractured. These fractures that are a result of osteoporosis can lead to lifelong immobility, loss of independence, or further injury.
Some of the risk factors of osteoporosis are:
– A small thin frame
– Previous family history of osteoporosis
– Estrogen deficiency due to menopause
– Old age
– Low calcium levels
– Cigarette smoking
– Excessive alcohol use
– Certain medications
Unfortunately for African-American women, osteoporosis is not well recognized and undertreated. As an African-American woman ages, her risk of hip fracture doubles every seven years and her risk of dying after a hip fracture is higher than that of a white woman. Diseases that are more prevalent in African-Americans such as sickle cell anemia can lead to osteoporosis faster than those who are not exposed as often to the disease. Almost 75% of African-Americans are lactose intolerant which is linked to a lack of calcium.
To prevent or reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, make sure that you have a Vitamin D rich diet. This should start when you are a child. Make sure that there is plenty of calcium in your system as well. You should always exercise regularly to keep muscles strong to support the bones. There is no cure, at the moment, for osteoporosis, but there are calcium chews and other supplements that greatly decrease the symptoms.