Bone Density Important to Women’s Health


In the midst of the Halloween decorations that inevitably make their appearance at the beginning of October, it is the annual appearance of pink ribbons that truly marks the start of this fall month. The pink ribbon has become synonymous with fighting breast cancer and supporting research to cure this terrible disease. Statistics show that one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

Second only to October’s pink ribbon campaign, is the National Wear Red Day in February. This monthly observance promotes awareness of heart disease in women and provides tools to help women take action against its risk factors. Although many people think of heart disease as a man’s problem, it is in fact the number-one killer of women in the United States.

Another overlooked health risk for women is low bone density, which often results in osteoporosis, otherwise known as porous bone. This loss of bone density increases the risk of fractures of the hip, spine, or wrist. Bone mass peaks at the age 30 and then begins to decline. After the age 35, women lose approximately one percent of their bone density, and this risk may double or quadruple in some women. Nearly 80 percent of those who develop osteoporosis are women, so it is imperative that women have their bone density measured and know their level of risk.

Osteoporosis risk factors:

• The first years of menopause when women lose more bone density than they gain

• Women with a history of steroid use because of illness

• Decreased levels of estrogen due to illness

• Current or former athletes with low body fat and estrogen levels

• Current or former anorexics with low estrogen levels

If you fall into any of the above categories or are concerned about your bone density levels, contact the imaging department at Methodist Hospital for Surgery to schedule a bone density scan.

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