7 Health Conditions That Affect Your Bones

Maintaining strong and healthy bones is crucial for our overall wellbeing.  But we need to be aware that various health conditions can significantly impact our bone density, making us more vulnerable to a disease such as osteoporosis or osteopenia, the condition which can lead to osteoporosis. To help understand the situation further, this blog looks at seven common health conditions, that can compromise bone health.

  1. Cancer Treatment

Statistically, 1 in 2 of us is likely to face a battle with any one of many forms of cancer. Fortunately, treatments are available and with early diagnosis and action our chances of fighting this awful disease are higher than ever.  Nevertheless, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can weaken bones. Chemotherapy drugs, especially those that reduce levels of oestrogen (one of the main female sex hormones needed to form strong bones), accelerating bone loss. Radiation therapy, especially when targeted at large areas, is also highly likely to affect nearby bones, leading to reduced bone density.

  1. Early Menopause

Menopause typically occurs around the age of 50, but some women experience it much younger – usually as the result of a medical complication of if needing a hysterectomy. Oestrogen levels drop during menopause, accelerating bone loss. Early menopause, for whatever reason, means a longer period of time a person is experiencing low oestrogen levels.  As such, this heightens the risk of developing osteoporosis.

  1. Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by extreme calorie restriction.  As our food provides the vast majority of the minerals and nutrients our body needs to build and maintain its health, this disease can have severe effects, including very poor bone health. Additionally, hormonal imbalances associated with anorexia further contribute to bone loss.

  1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

People suffering with IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, often experience malabsorption issues, hindering the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D. Chronic inflammation in the gut can also disrupt the bone remodelling process (a natural occurrence which sees our body replace old, damaged bone with new, healthier bone), increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

  1. Taking Steroids

Medical prescription of steroids to help fight certain conditions is very common.  Whilst they can be very successful in what they are targeting, long-term use of corticosteroids – commonly prescribed for conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus – can weaken bones, amongst other side effects. This is because steroids interfere with calcium absorption and restrict bone formation while accelerating bone resorption (the rate at which bone cells are lost). Together this can lead to decreased bone density over time.

  1.  Disability

People with physical disabilities, especially those who are wheelchair-bound or have limited mobility, are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. The reason for this is that they usually experience a greatly reduced amount of weight-bearing exercise, essential for maintaining bone density.  Prolonged immobility contributes to bone loss and fragility.

  1. Other Chronic Conditions

Various chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis, can impact a person’s bone health.  This is as a result of inflammation, side effects from any prescribed medication or reduced mobility, increasing the risk of low bone mineral density, osteopenia or even osteoporosis.

What can you do to help yourself?

If you, or someone you know is affected by any of these health conditions, it would be prudent to take preventative action to mitigate the likely impact of low bone density.  Being proactive is key to preserving bone strength and reducing the risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis.

If you have any bone health concerns, discuss them with your GP and ask for a Dexa scan to determine the health of your bones. Access to these scans can vary across the UK; it is possible that you may have to pay to get one.

Meanwhile, you can boost your bone health naturally through the following ways:

  • modifying your diet and nutrition – follow a healthy diet which includes green leafy vegetables, nuts and pulses, oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon and dairy products.
  • undertaking weight-bearing exercise – aim to do three 30-minute sessions each week. You don’t have to join a gym to do this (see our blog about exercise here for some inspiration!)  Remember to consult your GP before undertaking any notable change in lifestyle.
  • addressing any unhealthy lifestyle habits – smoking is very bad for you in so many ways, bone health is just one of them. If you do smoke and want to stop, visit your GP who can help you achieve your aim.
  • moderating your alcohol intake
  • taking daily supplements, usually in tablet or capsule form, to ensure you have the optimum levels of vitamin D, vitamin C and magnesium – all vital for healthy bones. These are particularly effective if you find it difficult to access the recommended foods for a healthy diet or your body has difficulties in absorbing nutrients
  • top up your collagen intake with Bioactive Collagen Peptides® – as found in bonebalance™ – known to boost new bone cell growth, attract and retain nutrients in the bone tissue and bring tensile strength and flexibility to your bones.