The Curse for the Woman of the Western World
by Dr Patrick Quanten MD
So much has been said and has been written about osteoporosis or thinning of the bones that you would imagine that by now we have got it all sorted out and under control. Sadly the opposite seems to be true; more panic, more operations, and more confusion. See if we can help.
Let's start with looking at the risk factors for osteoporosis; in other words things that make it more likely that YOU will end up with thin fragile bones. In 1988 Pocock & Eisman published a set of risk factors which up to date are still widely accepted. These include:
Caucasian or Asian race
A family history of osteoporosis
Menopause, particularly if it is early (premature)
Chronic steroid use
Lifelong calcium supplement intake
Sedentary lifestyle, immobilisation
Medical disease or illness: gastric or bowel resection, thyroid hyperactivity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, liver or kidney disease
On the grounds of these risk factors the treatment for osteoporosis as endorsed by the National Osteoporosis Society is as follows:
Pain management: includes bed rest and immobilisation, painkillers and anti-inflammatories, heat and ice, and TENS machine, surgery.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Biphosphonates inactivate the bone-destroying cell (Didronel PMO, Fosamax)
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium into the bloodstream
Calcitonin inactivates the bone-destroying cell
Shall we now take a closer look at the risk factors and put them in the perspective of treatment.
- You cannot change the fact that you are of Caucasian or Asian origin but if other people are less likely to end up with osteoporosis than I suspect that might have something to do with diet and lifestyle.
- If you have a family history of brittle bones you are more at risk. Again, family diet and lifestyle habits play a major factor in this type of tendency. And let's not forget that fifty years ago osteoporosis was unheard off, did not exist except in cases of extreme illness or bone disease.
- An early menopause put you more at risk; not so much the menopause itself but rather the premature menopause. May I point out that very much indicates previous menstrual and ovarian problems, which off course are diet and lifestyle related.
- Chronic steroid use is a known cause of osteoporosis. Yet we freely prescribe it for allergies, skin eruptions, asthma, bronchitis, joint problems, polymyalgia, and auto-immune diseases. We say it is safe to give to your toddler, your teenager and all adults. We use it in the meat industry; in sport and performance related jobs.
- Chronic alcohol intake reduces bone density. How much the real alcohol consumption in your house?
- A lifelong calcium supplementation puts you at risk for osteoporosis. However, no difference in osteoporosis has been established between high and low calcium diets in different cultural groups. We also know that chronic gastrointestinal disorders interfere with calcium absorption and that the majority of osteoporosis patients suffer from calcium malabsorption. A high protein diet (meat) dissolves bone matter; combined with a high fat diet which reduces calcium absorption. Excess salt intake interferes with the calcium metabolism. More worrying, a high phosphorus intake Carbonated soft drinks, processed foods, cheeses, contaminated farm land) actually causes osteoporosis and renders all treatment ineffective.
- Thin people are more at risk than well padded ones. This is only a relative risk in case of a fall or accident; it doesn't actually mean that your bones are going to snap under normal strain.
- Sitting down and not using your muscles and joints is a definite contributory factor to the loss of strength of the bones. If you don't use it, you'll loose it. This is totally a cultural factor; appalling lifestyle habits. On top of that, doctors are very keen to immobilise joints for the slightest problem (bearing legislation in mind more than natural healing), and contributing to the wasting away of muscles and joints that are culturally already under so much threat.
- All illnesses and diseases that interfere with the body's metabolism. Unfortunately, doctors still only treat the local problem completely ignoring the possible effect on the rest of the system. It is imperative that we include diet and lifestyle causes for chronic illnesses more and more if we are to make progress towards a healthier community.
Out of nine risk factors, we have found six to have a definite and strong link to diet and Lifestyle issues; leanness being a constitutional factor and not a major direct risk factor to develop brittle bones; and two directly related to the state of our health system and the way we judge health and illness, the way we have helped to create illness.
So, how well are we doing on the treatment front?
Pain management is not a treatment, that's a post mortem. If your bones are that far gone that every movement is painful, there is no hope of it getting better. You will just have to cope the best you can. I do question how anti-inflammatories help when there is no inflammation. Either your description of an anti-inflammatory is wrong or it doesn't work in bone pain. It is also interesting to note that painkillers perform very disappointingly in terms of bone pain; just when you wanted a good one.
Physiotherapy will help with the mobility of the joints and muscles. However, a few sessions here or there are totally useless; it's the continuity of movement that is going to help you regain strength and mobility.
Hormone replacement therapy replaces hormones that are not supposed to be there beyond the menopause. Menopause has been part of human life for as long as there has been human life; osteoporosis we have known for fifty years. Lacking of those hormones MUST be the cause of the problem. Let's replace them and artificially stimulate the whole system and pretend it is good for you. And by the way, did you notice that premature menopause is only one out of nine risk factors? So, why do all women have to take HRT, starting before the menopause?
Drugs like the biphosphonates and calcitonin may slow the activity down of the bone destroying cells, but what else does it do. For one, if you manage to slow down the natural breakdown process of old degenerated cells, if, and I say if, you were indeed as a consequence increasing the mass of the tissue, it would only be with old, tired cells.
Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium into the bloodstream. That doesn't get calcium into the bone yet, does it. Instead of taking vitamin D supplements, have you ever thought about exposing yourself to sunshine to increase your vitamin D metabolism. It is the natural way, but maybe you belief that the sun will harm you with it's wicked rays.
Let me finish with my treatment recommendations for osteoporosis.
- Prevention is better, more effective and much nicer for you, than treatment
- Eat natural unprocessed foods, avoid toxins in both the physical and the mental world.
- Avoid all long-term drug use. Remember that the difference between illegal and legal (prescribed) drugs is nothing but the law.
- Take note and treat in a natural way all digestive irregularities.
- Keep yourself active and mobile through walking, cycling and swimming — nothing strenuous, but regular. Use Yoga for better nourishment through breathing, for better balance, for relaxation of body and mind, for easy unforced movements and for greater movement control.
- Get adequate sun exposure.
Never forget that osteoporosis is a new problem. Any problem that was not there before is very likely to have its roots in a change of lifestyle. Let's not blame it on hormones who have done nothing wrong and nothing different from the beginning of our time.
I wish you well, and take care, because nobody else is going to do it for you.
Dr Patrick Quanten MD