Bone Health and Osteoporosis

Some cancer treatments and medications can cause osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them susceptible to breaking. The body continually removes and replaces small amounts of calcium from the bones. If it removes more calcium than it replaces, the bones become weaker. People who are not physically active are at a higher risk for developing bone and joint problems.

Osteoporosis doesn’t have symptoms, so most people don’t realize their bones are getting weaker. A bone mineral density test, also called a DEXA scan, can measure the amount of calcium in the bones to determine actual bone mass.

Treatment for osteoporosis may include taking bisphosphonates, the side effects of which include:

  • Bone pain
  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Low blood calcium
  • Osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare condition that causes the jaw bones to weaken and die; most cases are seen in people who had dental procedures and received multiple doses of intravenous bisphosphonates
  • Skin rash

Risk Factors

  • Broken bones after age 50
  • Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history
  • Older than 50 and postmenopausal
  • Taking corticosteroids or aromatase inhibitors
  • Thin or small frame
  • Three or more alcoholic drinks per day

How to Lower Your Risk

  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Do strength training exercises
  • Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D such as spinach, broccoli, cereals, bread, dairy products and calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Limit alcoholic drinks