May is recognized as National Osteoporosis Awareness Month
It is important for both men & women to be aware of how their bones lose mass and strength as they become older. This is due to a decline in the body’s bone-rebuilding process. Men’s risk is associated with a drop in the hormone testosterone & women’s risk with lower oestrogen levels.
Some people receive cancer treatments that can impact these hormones levels & hence increase the risk of developing osteopenia (bone thinning) and osteoporosis (fragile bones that are more likely to break easily).
Special scans called DEXA can be used to assess bone density. These may be recommended to anyone likely to have a risk, whether they are menopausal, have a family history of osteoporosis or are having / have had cancer treatments. Your GP or Oncologist will discuss this with you & then be able to advise on lifestyle changes or prescribe calcium & vitamin D supplements if necessary. In addition some people may be treated with a group of drugs called Bisphosphonates.
The good news is there are multiple steps you can take to help strengthen your bones and reduce the threat of pain or injury & these are things we can all do for ourselves.
- Jump and stomp.
Moderate stress on the bones causes them to become denser and stronger so weight bearing exercises such as running, skipping, aerobics, tennis, walking, dancing, stair climbing & using cross training machines all help. Choose according to your fitness level, try & work them into your daily routine & have some fun with them.
- Be sensible about smoking and drinking.
You may not know that smoking has been linked to a higher risk of fractures, but there is evidence to show this so it’s a good idea to stop or cut down. Drinking too much alcohol can also affect bone density, so go easy with the Mojitos & Sangrias or whatever your preferred tipple is.
- Stock up on bone-building foods.
There are plenty of delicious calcium-rich foods to choose from including:
- Leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach, broccoli & bok choy
- Dried figs, pulses & beans, products made from soya beans like tofu & soya milk.
- Nuts & seeds such as pumpkin, chia and sesame.
- Dairy products
- Fish with edible bones.
As we will see below, vitamin D is also important. Foods containing vitamin D include:
- Oily fish
- Some pork products
- Lamb’s liver
- Fortified products, specially treated mushrooms, soya products.
- Get some sun.
There’s a small amount of vitamin D in some foods, but it’s difficult to get enough from food alone. Sunlight remains an effective way to take in vitamin D, a valuable resource for maintaining bone health. This vitamin helps to improve the absorption of calcium and enhances muscle function. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue for us here in Gibraltar but of course please follow the sun safety recommendations that we’ve shared on our previous post.
If you have any questions or feel you would benefit from support during your cancer treatment, call us on 20042392 or email email@example.com