Related Topics: Features, Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis And Weight Gain

There are many reasons for keeping an eye on your weight, but those extra pounds can wear down your bones so good hormone balance and being proactive will definitely help.

AnnA Rushton

It was previously thought by scientists that being overweight protected the bones and prevented fractures so helping prevent osteoporosis, the ‘brittle bone disease,’ which causes bones to become progressively weaker and prone to fractures. Now it seems the opposite is true because extra fat triggers the development of cells which wear down bone cells  and that fat stored in bone also inhibits production of new bone tissue.

Healthy bone is a result of a constant process where old bone is broken down and new bone is produced to fill in the gaps, but this latest study by academics at Harvard University indicates that more bone will be broken down than replaced, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Healthy bones need two types of cell: osteoclasts which break down old bone, and osteoblasts which produce new bone to replace the old, weak bone.  The reason many women are given HRT for osteoporosis is that the oestrogen slows down the rate at which bone is lost, unfortunately unless new bone is being renewed and built with the aid of progesterone then it means the old bone remains longer and gets weaker  over time.

The researchers also suspect that if large amounts of fat are stored within the bone marrow, it inhibits the production of new bone tissue, so it is even more important to ensure good levels of progesterone to balance any excess oestrogen (oestrogen dominance) if at risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Recent studies over the last few years have shown that  obese adults tend to have thinner bones and the suggestion is that the cause is the high levels of fat in the bones that gradually wears them down.

Study leader Miriam Bredella, associate professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: ‘Obesity was once thought to be protective against bone loss. Extra fat triggers the formation of cells which gradually wear down bone. If large amounts of fat are stored within the bone it also inhibits the production of new tissue. We have found that this is not true. Bone marrow fat makes bones weak. If you have a spine that’s  filled with fat, it’s not going to be  as strong.’  They also found that adults with the most fat in their liver and muscles also had the highest levels of fat in their bone marrow, which increases the risk of osteoporosis.

What can you do?

More than three million people in Britain suffer from osteoporosis, and there are clear risk factors of which family history is only one. Women need both progesterone and oestrogen to produce strong bones but  at menopause, or after a hysterectomy, the majority of women are given either oestrogen only, or oestrogen plus a progestogen so the bone building element is missing.   Osteoporosis needs a good diet, weight bearing exercise, and good hormone balance.

Although the conventional response is usually HRT or drugs, there are potential health problems with both HRT and alendronic acid and drugs such as Fosamax.  For the latter class of drugs, digestive problems, oesophageal ulceration are common and they can also increase the risk of arterial fibrillation.  it is perfectly safe, and indeed advisable to take supplemental bioidentical natural progesterone for hormone balance and to protect the bones for those at risk.

Dr John Lee, the pioneer of natural progesterone usage, said it was never too late to take it for osteoporosis and indeed he had elderly patients on it who showed good results.   The fact that our bones continue to grow throughout our lives means we have to provide the optimum conditions to help them do that   Progesterone is essential for building new bone, so even though damage may be severe there is still the opportunity to build healthy bone.

Further reading:’t-ignore-the-4-main-myths-about-osteoporosis/

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