While Osteoporosis is more common among Caucasian women, African American women should also be aware of and concerned about the illness.
The National Library of Medicine defines Osteoporosis as the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. It is the most common type of bone disease and there aren’t any obvious symptoms in the early stages of the affliction.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), five percent of Black women older than 50 are estimated to have osteoporosis.
In addition, NOF cites another 35 percent of women are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker but they don’t yet have osteoporosis.
In the United States, Black women are more disproportionately disadvantaged than any other ethnic group to carry diseases that lead to osteoporosis, such as lupus.
The NOF also cites that people with darker skin make less vitamin D from sunlight than those with lighter skin and this puts Blacks at an exceptionally high risk for not receiving enough vitamin D. In fact, research suggests that more than 40 percent of African American women under age 50 don’t get enough vitamin D.
MayoClinic.com cites that warning signs and symptoms include back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra; loss of height over time; and a stooped posture.
Osteoporosis leads to an increase risk of bone fractures typically in the wrist, hip, and spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The NOF reported on its website that about 70 percent of African Americans are lactose intolerant, which can make it difficult for them to get enough calcium. Moreover, many Black women do not consume enough vitamin D causing the body to have trouble absorbing calcium.
If you lactose intolerant, it’s important to eat calcium-rich foods and/or take multivitamins to ensure your body has a sufficient supply of calcium.
Regular exercise and moderating alcoholic beverages can also help prevent osteoporosis. Women should also ask their doctors about taking a bone density test.
By Thelma Sardin
Sources: National Osteoporosis Foundation and CDC