Stopping Osteoporosis in Its Tracks
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Roughly 73 percent of all Mexican women over age 50 suffer from at least some significant degree of bone loss, and a whopping 15 percent have full-blown osteoporosis.
One in every 12 Mexican women (and one in every 20 Mexican men) will suffer a broken hip at some stage in their life.
Moreover, between 12 percent and 20 percent of Mexican women who suffer a hip fracture will die within a year of their accident, and of those who survive, half will be left partially incapacitated and 10 percent will be totally incapacitated.
And while some bone density is inevitable with aging and menopause, the dire state of consequential fractures and vertebral erosion is one of the main causes for hospitalization in the country, filling as many patient beds as breast cancer, which effects 40 percent of Mexican women in their lifetime.
“The problem is that most postmenopausal women never bother to discuss bone degradation with their doctors or main healthcare providers until they are in their 70s or even older,” said Guillermo Federico Ortiz Luna, head gynecological endocrinologist at the Hospital Primero de Octubre of the state-run Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE).
“In fact, most of the bone density loss that women suffer is in the first five years after menopause, that is when they are about 45 to 58 years old.”
Ortiz Luna, who spoke Tuesday, Oct. 31, during a medical conference sponsored by the Mexican pharmaceutical company M8, which distributes the Roche’s Bonviva, an oral ibandronic acid-based drug used to treat osteoporosis, went on to say that by the time that most women in Mexico receive medical attention for their condition, they have already suffered at least one broken bone or vertebral deterioration.
“Once the body suffers a broken bone, it is like a domino effect; the possibility of more breaks increases dramatically,” added Alejandro Vásquez Alanís, another ob/gyn specializing in postmenopausal conditions at the Hospital General de México, who also spoke during the conference.
“That is why it is so important to treat osteoporosis, which is a chronic disease, in its early stages and through preventative measures.”
Vásquez Alanís noted through preventive hormonal replacement therapies, such as Bonviva, beginning at the onset of menopause, 75 percent of bone deterioration can be prevented or slowed, and 19 percent can be reversed.
But he said that genetics, age and lifestyle choices can also make a difference in preventing broken bones and vertebral deterioration.
“After menopause, it is time to stop using stiletto heels and working out excessively at the gym,” Ortiz Luna said.
“A modest amount of walking daily is the best exercise option and getting outside to get sunlight.”
A lack of sufficient vitamin D absorption is the Number One cause of osteoporosis in Mexico, he said.
Other factors such as alcohol and tobacco consumption, family history, poor diet, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and even poor posture can likewise contribute to accelerated osteoporosis, Ortiz Luna said.
“The point is that bone density loss and osteoporosis can be controlled, stalled or even reversed, if treated early on,” said Vázquez Alanís.
“Every woman over 40 should be discussing the matter with their doctor and making sound decisions as to how to treat or prevent it.”
To that end, M8 has created a webpage aimed at informing the Mexican general public on osteoporosis. The page receives over 40,000 hits each month and discusses treatments, warning signs and even lists over 700 physicians nationwide specializing in treating the condition.