Hispanic Women and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis and Hispanic Women
It is a common misconception that osteoporosis only affects white women.
But, according to the Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and
Osteoporosis, in the United States, the prevalence of osteoporosis in
Hispanic women is similar to that in white women. Fortunately, osteoporosis is
preventable and treatable. As a Hispanic woman, it is important that you
understand your risk for osteoporosis, the steps you can take to protect your
bones, and, if you have the disease, the options for treating it.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease characterized by low bone mass and,
thus, bones that are susceptible to fracture. If not prevented or if left
untreated, 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, while vertebral fractures can result in a loss of height,
stooped posture, and chronic pain.
What Are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
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 diseases
like lupus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures.
Are There Any Special Issues for Hispanic Women Regarding Bone Health?
Several studies indicate a number of facts that highlight the
risk Hispanic women face with regard to developing osteoporosis:
- Ten percent of Hispanic women aged 50 and older are estimated to have
osteoporosis, and 49 percent are estimated to have bone mass that is low, but
not low enough for them to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.
- The incidence of hip fractures among some Hispanic women appears to be on
- Studies have shown that Hispanic women consume less calcium than the
Recommended Dietary Allowance in all age groups.
- Hispanic women are twice as likely to develop diabetes as white women,
which may increase their risk for osteoporosis.
How Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?
Osteoporosis prevention begins in childhood. The
recommendations listed below should be followed 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 lifting weights.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking, and, if you drink alcohol, do so
Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of
osteoporosis or other factors that may put you at increased risk for the
disease. Your doctor may suggest that you have your bone density measured
through a safe and painless test that can 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 painless: a bit like having an x ray, but
with much less exposure to radiation. It can measure bone density at your hip