Osteoporosis And Asian American Women
From the National Institutes of Health's Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center
Asian American women are at high risk for developing osteoporosis (porous bones), a disease that is preventable and treatable. Studies show that Asian Americans share many of the risk factors that apply to Caucasian women. As an Asian American woman, it is important that you understand what osteoporosis is and what steps you can take to prevent or treat it.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture. If not prevented or if left untreated, bone loss 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.
What Are The Risk Factors For Osteoporosis?
There are several factors that increase your chances of developing osteoporosis, including:
Are There Any Special Issues for Asian Women Regarding Bone Health?
- 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
a diet low in calcium
Caucasian and Asian ancestry (African American and Hispanic women are at lower but significant risk)
excessive use of alcohol
prolonged use of certain medications.
Recent studies indicate a number of facts that highlight the risk that Asian American women face with regard to developing osteoporosis:
- Compared to Caucasian women, Asian women have been found to consume less calcium. One reason for this may be that up to 90 percent of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. Therefore, they may avoid dairy products, the primary source of calcium in the diet. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining a healthy skeleton.
- Asian women generally have lower hip fracture rates than Caucasian women, although the prevalence of vertebral fractures among Asians seems to be as high as that in Caucasians.
- Slender women have less bone mass than heavy or obese women and are, therefore, at greater risk for osteoporotic bone fractures.
For more information on minority health, visit the Office of Minority Health Resource Center