Bone metastases – or bone "mets" – occur when cancer travels to the bone. It can have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Bone metastases can weaken bones, putting your body at risk for fractures and other problems. Fortunately, some simple changes at home, plus treatment and a healthy lifestyle, can reduce these risks. Here's what you need to know.
4 Small Changes to Protect Your Bones at Home
Medical treatment of bone metastasis is critical, but you can do your part by taking care to prevent falls and strengthen your bones. Ask your doctor if you should avoid certain activities or take any special precautions.
1. Prevent Falls
Here are some tips that help many people prevent falls:
- Use railings on stairs and in the bath.
- Remove throw rugs from the floor.
- Wear non-slip socks and shoes.
- Clear clutter off the floors and out of hallways.
- Roll over slowly in bed.
- Avoid walking on uneven surfaces.
- Be careful getting in and out of cars.
- Use a walker or a cane for support.
2. Follow a Bone-Healthy Diet
For some patients, it is important to eat a diet rich in calcium, a mineral that is critical for healthy bones. However, talk to your doctor first. These are examples of good sources of calcium:
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli
- Calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, soy drinks, and cereal
- Nuts such as almonds
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so it is also important in keeping your bones as healthy as possible. In addition to sunlight, these are examples of food sources of vitamin D:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel
- Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks
- Fortified foods such as cereal, orange juice, yogurt, or margarine
Blood tests can measure your levels of calcium and vitamin D. This will help you and your doctor know how much to supplement these nutrients.
It is important to take precautions against falls. But don't let that stop you from exercising altogether. Be sure to ask your doctor for guidance on the types and amounts of exercise you should try. This varies from person to person depending upon the effects of your cancer and treatment as well as your age and overall health.
Weight-bearing activities, in particular, strengthen bones. These work your bones against gravity. Walking is one of the best examples of this type of activity. Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese martial art, is also a gentle option for helping to preserve bone health and balance for people with bone mets. It combines slow, circular, fluid movements with deep breathing and relaxation.
4. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
The evidence is mounting that smoking increases the risk of having a fracture. Plus, smokers may take longer to heal if they do have a fracture. So if you smoke, now is the time to quit. In addition, avoid excess alcohol. It can interfere with your body's balance of calcium as well as the production of hormones and vitamins that protect bones. In addition, falls are more likely if you drink too much.