Asian American Women and Osteoporosis

    Asian American women are at high risk for developing osteoporosis (porous
bones), a disease that is preventable and treatable. Osteoporosis is a
debilitating disease characterized by low bone mass and, thus, bones that
are susceptible to fracture. If not prevented or if left untreated,
osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks, typically in the
hip, spine, or wrist. A hip fracture can limit mobility and lead to a loss
of independence, while a vertebral fracture can result in loss of height
and stooped posture.

    There are several factors that increase your chances
of developing osteoporosis, including a thin, small-boned frame; previous
fracture or family history of osteoporotic fracture; estrogen deficiency
resulting from early menopause (before age 45), either naturally or from
surgical removal of the ovaries or as a result of prolonged amenorrhea
(abnormal absence of menstruation) in younger women; advanced age; a diet
low in calcium; Caucasian and Asian ancestry (African American and
Hispanic women are at lower but significant risk); cigarette smoking; use
of alcohol; and prolonged use of certainmedications.

    Building strong bones, especially before the age of 35, can be the best
defense against developing osteoporosis, and a HEALTHY lifestyle can be
critically important for keeping bones strong. To help prevent
osteoporosis:  Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium. Exercise regularly,
especially weight-bearing activities. Don't smoke. Don't drink alcohol
Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of osteoporosis or
no longer have the protective benefit of estrogen due to natural or
surgically induced menopause. Your doctor may suggest that you have your
bone density measured at menopause through a safe and painless test that
can help predict your chance of fracturing in the future.

    Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are treatments available
to help stop further bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures:
Estrogen,Alendronate, Calcitonin etc., are approved drugs. Raloxifene
(brand nameEvista) is a drug that was recently approved for the prevention of
osteoporosis. It is from a new class of drugs called Selective Estrogen
Receptor modulators (SERMs) that appear to prevent bone loss at the spine,
hip, and total body. Raloxifenes effect on the spine does not appear to be
as powerful as either estrogen replacement therapy or alendronate, but its
effect on the hip and total body are more comparable. While side-effects
are not common with raloxifene, those reported include hot flashes and
deep vein thrombosis, the latter of which is also associated with estrogen
therapy. Additional research studies on raloxifene will be ongoing for
several more years.Source: NIH
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 04/26/98

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