Osteoporosis connection

Timing of puberty can affect bone density

By Ipsita Sarkar
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

imageCHILDREN who attain puberty early may have less chances of getting osteoporosis later in life. This information may help Indians take precautionary steps, as one in every three women above 45 years has osteoporosis, a survey conducted by Arthritis Foundation of India states.

Statistics with the International Osteoporosis Foundation shows that one in every eight men and one in every three women in India suffer from osteoporosis. Influenced by genetic and environmental factors, osteoporosis is caused due to decrease in bone density and thinning of the bone tissue.

In the US, the average age for puberty is around 11 years. A study conducted by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles found that healthy girls who started puberty a year earlier had approximately 5 per cent greater Bone Mineral Content and 2.5 per cent greater Bone Mineral Density at skeletal maturity.

Those starting a year later had 5 per cent and 2.5 per cent less. Similar findings, but to a smaller magnitude, were reported in healthy boys. Since their bone mass is greater, they get osteoporosis later or not at all. Results of this study were published in Journal of Pediatrics in its January issue this year.

Bones reach their maximum strength and size at about 20 years. The first period of rapid bone growth is from birth to two years. The second period is in the years of puberty, when the speed of building bones in the hip and spine increases by about five times.

Early puberty may reduce chances of osteoporosis, but it is not a healthy sign as it is associated with sedentary lifestyle, consumption of junk food and exposure to chemicals like detergents and pesticides that mimic estrogen. A study published last year in Pediatrics stated that girls with early puberty are more likely to develop breast and uterine cancer later. It also affects their psychological health and is linked to poor self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.

It is “associated with hormonal imbalances and polycryptic uterine. It also affects growth and height which start early,” said Manju Hotchandani, senior consultant of gynaecology and obstetrics at Moolchand Women’s Hospital in Delhi.

Though late puberty leads to decrease in bone mass density, Hotchandani said, it implies late menopause which too, reduces osteoporosis risk. “We have got cases where people have wanted to delay the age of puberty. Injections are administered to suppress hormonal activity, but it can lead to reduction in bone mass.

However, these side-effects are reversible and such people have never reported of developing osteoporosis at a later stage.” Like most diseases, osteoporosis too, afflicts Indians earlier. It occurs between 70 and 80 years in the West, but may strike Indians at 50-60 years.

“Increased osteoporosis cases in India may be on account of deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D, poor nutrition, less exposure to sports, high incidences of diabetes and not reaching the peak bone mass at the age of 25,” said Sushil Sharma, chairperson of Arthiritis Foundation of India.

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  • Dear Ipsita, Let me take

    Dear Ipsita,

    Let me take this opportunity to thank you for this informative article. I understand that this is an issue of prime importance.

    While all of us acknowledge the need for early detection and the importance of easy, inexpensive and readily available treatments to tackle this menace, I hope you will agree that we should be giving increasing emphasis on prevention. Numerous independent and unbiased research studies have now shown that a whole-foods plant-based diet does not only protect us from osteoporosis (and other chronic diseases such as cancers, heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, kidney stones and more) but can also help reverse most of these diseases in many cases. Modern life-styles and dietary choices are largely responsible for such a steep rise in chronic diseases, including osteoporosis.

    We should educate people to adopt and strictly adhere to a whole-foods, plant-based diet to achieve long-lasting health benefits. This diet coupled with regular moderate sunlight exposure and physical activities/exercises, is a scientifically proven healthiest lifestyle. I will be glad to share with you more data and resources, including the ones from nutrition researchers and medical professionals. But the one that deserves particular attention is the legendary work by Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Ph. D.) and covered in his book "The China Study- The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted". He is one the most renowned personalities in the field of nutrition worldwide and I can assure you that you will find reading this book highly rewarding.

    Thanks for your kind consideration.
    Best Wishes and Warm Regards,
    Parag Chaurasia
    Certificate Holder in Plant-Based Nutrition
    (TCCF and eCornell, Cornell Univ, USA)
    E-Mail: paragchaurasia@yahoo.com

    Posted by: Anonymous | 9 years ago | Reply