OSTEOPOROSIS –Is it a disease or just aging bone?
I have written about osteoporosis many times before but each time I revisit this topic because a new question comes up for me and a whole new perspective and viewpoint emerges. It is amazing how entrenched viewpoints become so that one just accepts the prevailing view because that is all that seems to appear in the literature that one reads.
I have often wondered about the question of osteoporosis being diagnosed as a ‘disease’ for the simple reason that if it is just a process of aging, then is aging itself a ‘disease’? If aging is not a disease and osteoporosis is just aging, then how can this be called a disease?
It makes a big difference to my way of thinking calling something a disease or a declining physiological event. I can understand that if doctors believe that osteoporosis is a disease they may want to then treat it with drugs, but if osteoporosis is just a process of aging then perhaps doctors may be prepared to think about improving health. What a healthy older person needs is not drugs, but an improvement in health, or in other words moving the system to greater efficiency. For example I have yet to see an older person with normal vitamin D levels and this would surely contribute to that person having less dense bone. If that less dense bone is diagnosed as osteoporosis, a disease needing drugs, then that is very different to recognizing osteoporosis as just thin bones due to aging and perhaps lack of exercise and vitamin D deficiency.
There is good reason to think differently about osteoporosis
Santora L From brittle bones to standard deviations: The historical development of osteoporosis in the late twentieth Century. Science Technology Human Values 2011;36(4):494-521
Here are some interesting facts:
1. Bone density does not equal bone strength.
The lead in a pencil is very dense but has little strength quality and can break easily.
2. The Japanese have a low calcium diet and lower bone density on average than American women, yet have a much lower fracture rate.
Fujita T Osteoporosis in Japan: factors contributing to the low incidence of hip fracture. Adv Nutr Res 1994;9:89-99
These differences in bone density and fracture rates are not uncommon around the world, and even in the same country within different races.
3. Osteoporosis is a common disorder of western civilization but is much less common in other parts of the world, especially amongst indigenous and traditional peoples.
4. Other medical conditions seen less commonly amongst indigenous people include coronary heart disease, diabetes, periodontal disease, obesity and diseases of the colon.
This suggests that these diseases are possible due to or more likely because of the lifestyle habits of modern western civilization, including use of refined foods, sugar, cigarette smoking, lack of sunshine and exercise, poor sleep patterns and the increasing intake of large amounts of environmental toxins.