Why is Osteoporosis on the rise among young Indians?
Osteoporosis is a bone related condition that weakens bones and causes fractures more easily. It is quite most common later on in the life, even more so in women after menopause.
Did you know that it’s possible for kids and teenagers to develop osteoporosis? This is called “juvenile” osteoporosis and will most often happen to children who are between the ages of eight and fourteen. Osteoporosis can in some cases develop in younger children during their growth spurts.
This is a serious problem as it strikes when children are still developing their bone strength. We humans build almost 90% of our entire bone mass (for life) from the time we turn 18 till about the age of 20. Losing bone mass during these crucial primary bone-building years can easily put someone at risk of facing complications such as fractures.
Osteoporosis was once considered a disease that happened only to the elderly, but now it is on the rise among teens and young adults in India due to an increasingly sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle the general population leads. The city itself has seen a sharp rise in incidence and our visitor books also point toward an increase in the number of people who visit our hospital for such fragility fractures in Dwarka. Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, staying indoors, with air conditioners, lack of vitamin D and calcium in the body are among the major factors driving the incidence of the disease in the country.
There are two kinds of juvenile Osteoporosis i.e. Secondary osteoporosis and Idiopathic osteoporosis.
Secondary Osteoporosis means that another medical condition is to blame for having osteoporosis, and this is by far the most common kind of juvenile osteoporosis reported. Some of the diseases and causes that can lead to osteoporosis in children are juvenile arthritis, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, leukaemia, hyperthyroidism, anorexia, kidney disease and brittle bone disease to name a few. Juvenile osteoporosis can be a direct result of other diseases, for instance children who have rheumatoid arthritis could have lower bone density and mass formed, particularly around arthritic joints.
Some girls who partake in sport and intense exercise are at risk of a problem called the female athlete triad, which is a combination of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. A female athlete could have one, two, or all three parts of the triad. Low oestrogen levels and poor nutrition, especially low calcium intake, can lead to osteoporosis. There are many reasons for women being more likely to get osteoporosis than men: they tend to have smaller, thinner bones compared to men, estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases rapidly when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. While osteoporosis is usually found in older people, it can also affect young women, or premenopausal women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The term “premenopausal” is used to refer to women who still have regular menstrual periods and have not yet reached menopause. While it is very uncommon for premenopausal women to have osteoporosis, some young women have low bone density from their adolescence which increases their chance of getting osteoporosis later in life.
However, we must remember that younger populations of all genders are increasingly being affected, and on the other hand this disease goes undetected for years making it difficult for treatment later, doctors say.
The figures in India, it is estimated that up to 20% of men and over 40% of women living in urban settings, who are aged below 50 years of age suffer from osteoporosis and osteopenia without knowing it.
For young men, osteoporosis is related to low testosterone, like low estrogen is with women.
Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to things like chronic steroid use or other medications that hinder bone health. It’s the same for smoking and other chemicals, including alcohol, poor nutrition, and lack of weight-training exercise.
The rise of other health conditions among young Indian adults has significantly impacted overall bone health regardless of gender
There are many diseases and disorders that are not gender-specific which affect bone density, like hyperparathyroidism and hyperthyroidism (both of which are also on the
Lack of awareness and ignorance are the major contributors to overall bone health deteriorating among Indians. Most of us are under the impression that osteoporosis and osteopenia can only occur in women, or in old age, and that is simply not true.
Knowing about osteopenia and osteoporosis can definitely help because it’s reversible, only if identified early, with the right choices for healthier bones like working out with weight-bearing exercises and improving nutrition.
Since there no symptoms for osteoporosis until an injury occurs and even x-rays cannot be used for diagnosing it. The only way it can be detected is by Dexa Scan, which measures bone density. You can visit us and we’ll get you the scan in a little while, but we will continue to stress that prevention is the best way to fight osteoporosis. We urged all parents to let their children get enough exposure to sunlight, encourage them to play outdoors with friends and ensure a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet
Dr. Aashish Chaudhry
Director & Head
Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement & Spine Surgeon