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Prevalence: Men and women, aged 50 and older, are most susceptible to the onset of osteoporosis. However, it is important to note that women are far more prone to the disease. For example, of the 10 million Americans estimated to have the disease, 8 million are women. Osteoporosis has also been reported as a significant risk in people of all ethnic backgrounds, though it is believed that Caucasians and Asians are more prone to developing the disease. Finally, although osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age (NOF, 2004).

Role of Diet: Diet has a definite role to play in preventing osteoporosis. As has been observed earlier, low lifetime calcium intake increases the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, since calcium requirements increase with age, it is important to regulate the amount of calcium intake. For example, in most pre-menopausal women, and in men, at least 800 milligrams of calcium per day is required to maintain body calcium, while post-menopausal women require 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams daily. Another dietary factor is protein intake, since this affects the daily calcium requirement. An increased intake speeds calcium excretion, especially in the case of high-meat diets. Thus, careful regulation of diet can help reduce he risk of osteoporosis: "Ensure an adequate calcium intake, in the diet itself if possible (milk, yogurt) or at least by supplemental calcium. Calcium supplements may exert a partial suppressive effect on bone remodeling, whereas calcium in milk does not, so milk is preferred." Besides calcium, attention also needs to be paid to vitamin D intake, and it is recommended that excessive phosphates be avoided (Walford, 2000, p. 132-133).

The Role of Diet in Managing the Disease: A diet that is high in calcium, along with activities such as walking, running, tennis or even climbing stairs can all promote bone density. Thus, diet, body weight, and exercise can play an instrumental role in preventing and managing the disease. However, once osteoporosis has been diagnosed, treatment is dependent on age, sex, medical history and which bones have been broken. The treatments available include Hormone Replacement Therapy, Testosterone Therapy, calcium and vitamin D supplements (BBC, 2004).

Cure: Currently, there is no cure for osteoporosis (NOF, 2004). However, as mentioned earlier, there are treatments and medications that are available for treatment of the disease. The only role diet plays once the disease has been diagnosed is in increasing the level of calcium and vitamin D intake through foods such as milk and yogurt. But even here, usually the patients are advised to increase their intake through calcium supplements.

Conclusion: Osteoporosis is a disease that can be debilitating. Unfortunately, not enough attention is being paid to either prevent or detect the disease at an early stage. Thus, there is a great deal of effort that needs to be made in the area of educating the public about the role diet and exercise plays in preventing the disease. Similarly, the medical fraternity needs to mobilize greater efforts into ensuring that the at-risk populations undergo bone density tests, which can detect the disease before a fracture occurs.

References

BBC. (2004, November 25). World Osteoporosis Day: 20 October 2004. BBC Health page.

Retrieved Nov. 24, 2004: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/awareness/worldosteoporosis.shtml#managing

NOF. (2004). Fast Facts. National Osteoporosis Foundation Web site.

Retrieved Nov. 24, 2004: http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/diseasefacts.htm

NOF. (2004). Osteoporosis: What is It? National Osteoporosis Foundation Web site.

Retrieved Nov. 24, 2004:…