Posts Tagged ‘osteoporosis’

Strengthening Exercises Boost Bone Density in Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercises are essential to prevent and limit the bone-wasting disease osteoporosis as women age.

That’s the bottom-line result of a new update of clinical studies just published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

When you have osteoporosis, old bone breaks down faster than new bone can replace it.

As this happens, bones lose minerals (such as calcium).

This makes bones weaker and more likely to break even after a minor injury, like a little bump or fall, according to the Cochrane Review.

The new review confirms that strengthening exercises boost bone density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis compared to staying sedentary.

The review of 43 studies and more than 4,300 women shows that for postmenopausal women

– Exercise will improve bone mineral density slightly.

– Exercise will reduce the chances of having a fracture slightly.

All types of exercises, including aerobics, strength training, walking, and Tai Chi, improved bone mineral density and slightly reduced the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women.

A combination of exercises led to the least bone mineral loss in the spine compared to controls who did not exercise.

Strength training was the most effective for limiting bone mineral loss at the hip compared to controls.

“There’s the perception that resistance training is really just for young athletes.

That’s just not true.

There’s a role that resistance training plays for everyone,” C. David Geier, Jr., MD, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the sports medicine program at the Medical University of South Carolina, told the Health Behavior News Service.

Tai Chi and Green Tea Boost Bone Health, and More

Low-impact exercises such as walking can reduce rates of bone loss in women with low bone density (osteopenia) or the bone-wasting disease osteoporosis, and regular exercise can induce changes in bone mineral density (BMD) within a few months.

But many post-menopausal women just don’t do conventional exercises, either due to health factors or a lack of sustained interest, among other reasons.

A novel low-impact weight-bearing exercise like Tai Chi, along with drinking green tea, may be their answer.

A new study of 171 women with osteopenia found that doing Tai Chi three times a week and consuming the equivalent of 4-6 cups of green tea a day significantly enhanced bone health and muscle strength after 6 months.

What’s more, Tai Chi and green tea seem to work in synergy to reduce oxidative stress, which is one of the precursors to inflammation and may be an underlying cause of osteoporosis as well as other inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, reported Dr. Chwan-Li (Leslie) Shen, associate professor at the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting in Washington, DC on April 10.

Dr. Shen led a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial – the gold standard of medical studies – that divided the women into 4 groups.

One group took 500 mg a day of green tea polyphenols, which is the active ingredient in green tea, and did no Tai Chi.

A second group took Tai Chi classes 3 times a week and a sugar pill daily.

A third group took Tai Chi classes and the green tea pills.

A fourth, control group did no Tai Chi and took sugar pills.

In addition to benefits to bones, Dr. Shen said those who took Tai Chi classes also reported significant improvements in their emotional and mental health.

Preliminary studies from Asia suggest Tai Chi can reduce rates of BMD decline in post-menopausal women.

Tai Chi has also been shown to improve balance, reduce falls in older women, and increase bone strength – all important ways to prevent fractures from low bone density.

Tai Chi doesn’t require any equipment, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s easily incorporated into daily life. Add in some cups of green tea each day and you may just stave off the effects of low bone density.

Osteoporosis Beyond Bone Mineral Density

An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and every year 2 million people with osteoporosis have a so-called “osteoporotic fracture,” usually of the hip, spine, or wrist. Another 34 million (80% of them women) have osteopenia, which means their bones are thinner than normal but not thin enough to be labeled osteoporosis.

I recently wrote an article that appeared in the March 2011 issue of American Legion magazine in which I interviewed Steve Pieczenik, MD, PhD of NBI Pharmaceuticals in Bozeman, MT. He told me that doctors primarily rely on bone mineral density (BMD) tests in conjunction with age, fracture history, and family history to determine fracture risk. But BMD does not accurately reflect fracture risk, he says.

The BMD test indicates the hardness of bone, imparted by the minerals calcium and magnesium. “Flexibility is what helps bones resist fracture – the bone’s ability to bend and not break,” Dr. Pieczenik says.

In today’s New York Times “Personal Health” column, Jane Brody notes that bisphosphonates, the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs, can reduce the “toughness” of bones, according to a report from a 27-member task force of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research published online last September.

The task force was looking into reports of unusual, hard-to-diagnose and hard-to-heal fractures of the femur, the long bone of the thigh, among women who have taken bisphosphonates — which can slow bone loss and increase bone density — for many years.

It’s bone collage that helps create flexibility, and to build bone collagen, you need vitamin K, says Dr. Pieczenik. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient (like vitamins A and D) found abundantly in leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, as well as lettuce, cabbage, and asparagus.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School analyzed 10 years of health data on vitamin K intake and bone health in more than 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Those with the highest intake of vitamin K had a 30% lower risk for hip fracture, compared with women who had the lowest intake.

Doctors from England analyzed data from 13 studies on osteoporosis and found that a specific form of vitamin K called MK4 in the amount of 45 mg per day decreased hip fractures by 73%, spinal fractures by 60%, and non-spinal fractures by 81%. This is significantly better than spinal fracture reductions with the bisphosphonates Fosamax (47%) and Boniva (52%) and another common osteoporosis drug Evista (30%), says Dr. Pieczenik.

If you are at risk for or have osteoporosis, he suggests you start eating more green, leafy vegetables and consider taking dietary supplements containing calcium, vitamin D, and 45 mg of MK4.