Preventing Osteoporosis

Written by Clinical Research Associates Staff

The first few years after the onset of menopause are crucial years to take care of your changing body. Be careful not to ignore your bones' health. You can prevent bone loss by:

  • eating a nutritious diet
  • exercising
  • quitting smoking
  • avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

In spite of doing these things, there are some unavoidable factors that put you at risk for osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can lead to a decreased quality of life. It can even shorten your life expectancy. Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fracture. This is called "fragility fracture" because it applies to a bone break that would not have happened in a person with normal bone density. As the small holes in the sponge-like structures of your bones get larger, your bones lose their density. As bones become more fragile and porous, you are at a much higher risk for fragility fractures, especially those in your hips, back and wrists.

Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal women. The rapid bone loss during the first few years after menopause is related to a decrease in hormone production (sex hormones estrogen and progestin). Many women balance hormone deficiencies by using hormone replacement therapy, which can help with menopause-related symptoms like hot flashes. The most commonly prescribed hormone therapy, Premarin, has also been shown to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis. However, it can increase the risk of abnormal growth in the lining of the uterus. This has led to a decline in the use of hormone replacement therapy as well as the development of different medications to safely treat the complex symptoms of menopause.

Recent clinical studies suggest that adding a type of medication called a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) to hormonal treatments would preserve uterine safety. SERMs work by either binding to or blocking estrogen. They have been shown to help prevent osteoporosis in previous studies.