Mumbai: Bone depletion or osteoporosis is a common phenomenon experienced with ageing, making people extremely prone to fractures. With higher life expectancy, the incidence of osteoporosis too is on the rise in India, as is the risk of fractures associated with brittle bones.
It is not uncommon to hear of the elderly and sometimes, even the young, suffering a fracture from a low-impact injury or fall. This is because progressive bone depletion has made their bones so weak that they cannot tolerate even a slight injury. .
“Once a patient suffers an osteoporosis-related fracture, his or her risk for a future fracture increases 10-fold. Around 25 per cent of patients who sustain hip fractures die within a year, and less than half of those who survive regain their previous level of function,” says Dr Sandeep Wasnik, joint replacement surgeon, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute.
As we grow, bone density starts to decrease — this phenomenon is termed as osteoporosis. This condition afflicts all genders but is especially aggravated in post-menopausal women.
Dr Wasnik says, in extreme cases, bones become abnormally porous and fragile and thus extremely susceptible to fracture. But now, newer and advanced treatment options are available in India. “One Denosumab injection every six months helps arrest bone loss in patients at high risk of fracture. It slows down the natural rate of bone depletion and allows people with osteoporosis lead a normal life.
“This is a new class of drug, made available in India recently, given as a six-monthly injection to help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fracture in osteoporosis patients. Denosumab is a monoclonal antibody that slows the natural rate at which bones break down. It works by blocking a protein and suppressing the cells that break down bone,” he adds.
Essentially, bone density is at its peak in humans until the age of 35; thereafter it starts decreasing. Bones naturally thinning with age and the rate of depletion of the bone soon outstrips the rate at which new bone is made. The bones lose calcium, other minerals and mass, becoming week. Rampant Vitamin D deficiency and inadequate calcium intake in younger people is aggravating the incidence of osteoporosis. With improper diets, faulty lifestyles and absence of sun exposure, a large part of our population, including relatively younger adults are falling prey to osteoporosis.
With increasing life expectancy, prevalence of osteoporosis is on the rise. At the same time, inadequate sun exposure also causes weak bones in relatively younger people, since vitamin D which is processed by the skin in sunlight, is essential for the body to absorb calcium from the diet. Vitamin D deficiency is rampant among Indians today. Our lifestyles prevent us from sun exposure and the habit of applying sunscreen further hampers the production of Vitamin D.
“It is essential for every individual to expose a substantial part of their skin to the sun everyday for at least 15-20 minutes. It is also advisable to increase intake of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, to prevent osteoporosis,” said doctors.