Anti aging guide

Checking the Bone Mineral Density



How to check for the bone mineral density using the DXA scan to detect the risk of osteoporosis.

There are several ways to check the bone mineral density. One way is to use the DXA scan, also called DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry). During the scan it will be necessary to have an injection of a very small amount of radioactive material. This will give a final picture of the state of the calcium in your bones as well as predict the risk of future bone fractures.

An easy way of assessing the risk of osteoporosis is to check your hair color. People who have premature graying of the hair are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. A New Zealand study found that those who had Grey hair before the age of 40 also had abnormal thinning of their bones.

At present, one of the most effective treatments of osteoporosis is HRT. Because of concerns about its side effects, however, particularly concerns about the risk of breast cancer, scientists have developed newer drugs which target only specific organs.

One example is the group of drugs called SERMs (selective estrogen receptor modulators). These attach to the oestrogen receptor on the cell membrane and block the binding of excess oestrogens on the receptor. Raloxifene is one of the first SERMs to be developed. This protects the bone tissue without increasing the risk of breast cancer. The modulators able to balance the levels of oestrogen. If oestrogen is too high, the SERMs block it. If it is too low they boost it. Treatment with SERMs does not affect the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, it only prevents osteoporosis (and perhaps also heart attacks and stroke). More variants are in the pipeline.

Calcium needs to be taken daily, in a dose of over 1,000mg (1g) (some authorities recommend over 1,500mg a day). This should preferably be a combination of calcium-rich food plus supplements. The average diet contains only 600-800mg of calcium a day and this is why it may be necessary to take extra supplements.

Be careful when choosing calcium preparations. Not all calcium is absorbed by the body unless it is in certain chemical configurations. Some people may only be able to absorb one fifth of the calcium they take and most commercial preparations contain insufficient amounts of good quality calcium. Our bodies are usually able to absorb calcium in the elemental form, one variety of which is calcium bis-glycinate, so have this in mind when reading the ingredients on the label. Choose calcium in capsule form because tablets may not break down completely in the gut.

Vitamin D, in the order of over 400 units daily, is needed to help the bones absorb calcium properly and to keep it there. It needs to be taken together with calcium supplements and there are several products on the market offering this combination.

Other drugs used for the treatment of osteoporosis are called bisphosphonates. Examples of these are etidronate (Didronel) and alendronate (Fosamax), which increase the bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures. These are not hormones and they have different side effects. Treatment with bisphosphonates is mainly reserved for established cases of osteoporosis, not for prevention at present. In a recent trial studying the effects of alendronate on nearly 2,000 women in 34 countries, researchers found that it dramatically boosted the strength of the bone tissue and reduced the risk of fracture.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm