Save 15% on the Aeron Chair and other Herman Miller Products!
this content shows to analytics UTM campaigns

Osteoporosis and African American Women

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease characterized by low bone mass, which makes bones fragile and susceptible to fracture. Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease because symptoms and pain do not appear until a fracture occurs. Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist. A hip fracture can limit mobility and lead to a loss of independence, and vertebral fractures can result in a loss of height, stooped posture, and chronic pain.

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
A thin, small-boned frame
Previous fracture or family history of osteoporotic fracture
Estrogen deficiency resulting from early menopause (before age 45), either naturally, from surgical removal of the ovaries, or as a result of prolonged amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) in younger women
Advanced age
A diet low in calcium
Caucasian and Asian ancestry (African American and Hispanic women are at lower but significant risk)
Cigarette smoking
Excessive use of alcohol
Prolonged use of certain medications, such as those used to treat lupus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures.

Although African American women tend to have higher bone mineral density (BMD) than white women throughout life, they are still at significant risk of developing osteoporosis. The misperception that osteoporosis is only a concern for white women can delay prevention and treatment in African American women who do not believe they are at risk for the disease.

Many scientific studies highlight the risk that African American women face with regard to developing osteoporosis and fracture.

Osteoporosis is under-recognized and under-treated in African American women.

As African American women age, their risk for hip fracture doubles approximately every 7 years.

African American women are more likely than white women to die following a hip fracture.

Diseases more prevalent in the African American population, such as sickle cell anemia and lupus, can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

African American women consume 50 percent less calcium than the Recommended Dietary Allowance. Adequate intake of calcium plays a crucial role in building bone mass and preventing bone loss.

As many as 75 percent of all African Americans are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance can hinder optimal calcium intake. People with lactose intolerance often may avoid milk and other dairy products that are excellent sources of calcium because they have trouble digesting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.

Osteoporosis prevention begins in childhood. It is important to follow the recommendations listed below throughout life to lower your risk of osteoporosis. Eat a well-balanced diet adequate in calcium and vitamin D. Exercise regularly, with an emphasis on weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training. And live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking and, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors that may put you at increased risk for the disease. Your doctor may suggest that you have your bone density measured to determine your risk for fractures (broken bones), and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized bone mineral density test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. It is safe and painless, a bit like having an x ray, but with much less exposure to radiation. This test can measure bone density at your hip and spine.