Osteoporosis is becoming a common disease worldwide. More than 54 million Americans are suffering already, and the numbers keep growing. In fact, studies show that every three seconds, a bone is fractured due to the disease.
Bones are living tissues that keep breaking down and rejuvenating. With age, and under certain circumstances, this process gets skewed. When that happens, osteoporosis results.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which your bones become fragile and brittle due to the development of big holes in the bones. Additionally, osteoporosis and genetics interfere with the development of new bone mass. This makes bones more prone to fractures. The disease can reach a point that you can break a bone even by sneezing or coughing.
Osteoporosis and Genetics: How They’re Linked
Osteoporosis is a lifelong disease that can lead to significant back pain and other chronic health issues. There’s no permanent cure, so prevention is usually your best defense against it. But this may not be possible if your family has had issues with osteoporosis and genetics.
Studies on twins and family members clearly show a definite link of 50 to 90 percent between bone mass density, osteoporosis and genetics. But research is still ongoing since there isn’t just one gene that comes into play for osteoporosis — there are 56 different genes!
Arm and Wrist Bones Vulnerable
Although the DNA doesn’t pinpoint to which bones become brittle first, the spinal medicine physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) see more wrist and forearm injuries as the first sign of the disease. Hip fractures, so often due to osteoporosis, are the most dangerous, especially in the elderly, as they almost always require specialized care.
But your spine represents the easiest way to see if you have osteoporosis. The bones in your vertebrae crumble over time, which can give you back pain. You also start looking shorter. If the problem isn’t treated appropriately, you may develop a hunched back, also called a dowager hump in women.
It’s a Risky Business
Women are susceptible to osteoporosis more than men. Your estrogen level — and when you start menopause — is written in your DNA. Women are 25 percent more inclined to break a bone after the menopausal age due to the osteoporosis and genetics link. Only about five percent of men are affected by osteoporosis, and then typically not until after the age of 65.
Although the disease has now become global, white women and women from Asian countries get the disease more frequently than others. The risk factor increases if either of your parents or siblings has fractured their bones due to the disease.
Take Preventive Measures
Osteoporosis is also called the silent disease because you don’t feel your bones losing mass until you break one. If you have family members with brittle bones, get screened immediately. During the screening process, your SSI doctors can see how low your bone mass is. They can also estimate your likelihood of getting the disease.
Back specialists at SSI check all aspects of your family history. If you’re at risk, they recommend a proactive dietary and exercise regime to strengthen your bones. With your health on the line, get screened for osteoporosis today.