Osteoporosis

During menopause, calcium and phosphorus minerals are lost from women’s bones at a greater rate in a condition called osteoporosis. The primary cause of osteoporosis is the lower levels of estrogen in a woman’s blood.  A direct relationship between osteoporosis and estrogen has shown that early menopause (before age 45), any prolonged periods in which hormone levels are low, and when menstrual periods are absent or infrequent can cause a loss of bone mass. (“Menopause and Osteoporosis”)  It has also been shown that obese women tend to have fewer problems with osteoporosis, linking their higher estrogen levels due to more fat cells, or adipose tissue.

Menopause occurs with the exhaustion of the follicle stock (menstrual cycles) in the ovaries.  This causes a steady decrease in levels of progesterone and estrogen.  The decrease of estrogen has a profound impact on osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is caused by a malfunction in the normal cycling between osteoblast and osteoclast production.  Osteoblasts constantly build bone, and osteoclasts constantly reabsorb bone.  Osteoblasts are also responsible for mineralization of the bone spongy matrix and these minerals create the outer hard shell.  Osteoclasts are a type of bone cell that remove the mineralized matrix.  The in between stage is when the cells are considered osteocytes “bone cells” of the matrix.  A particular interest to osteoporosis, is the upgrade and reabsorption caused by osteoclasts.  Although, osteoblasts and osteoclasts are under the constant influence of hormones calcitonin and PTH (parathyroid hormone) it has been shown that the decrease in estrogen levels has been shown to cause cytokines (Interleukin factor-1, tumor necrosis factor, granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, and interleukin-6) to rise and these cytokines is what causes the differentiation, recruitment, and activation of osteoclasts. (“Osteoporosis and Osteoporosis in Women”) The research conducted on this relationship of estrogen with osteoporosis, has shown no link to calcium levels in menopausal women. Though, calcium deficiency does have a direct affect also leading to bone fragility and risk of bone fractures.

Our bones are comprised of: minerals (including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous) and bone cells (consisting of osteoblasts and osteoclasts).  Osteoporosis occurs when your bones lose a certain percentage of their mineral density. The accelerated bone loss during menopause has little relationship to the amount of calcium intake. (“Osteoporosis and Osteoporosis in Women”) Estrogen monitors the osteoclasts and regulates the osteoblasts to build more bone.  (“Effects of Menopause: Osteoporosis: 2009”) Once women reach the age of 60, medical doctors will check a woman’s estrogen level to determine if estrogen replacements are needed.  Estrogen replacement therapy is a common remedy in women who have reached menopause.

The International Women’s Day 2009 highlighted this important issue of estrogen imbalance and its relation to osteoporosis.

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