Maintaining good bone health is very important at all times. It is also important when undergoing radiation for prostate cancer. If prostate cancer moves outside of the prostate capsule it can move into bone. This Doctor Day page includes information on bone health.
Here are some simple definitions of two bone conditions: osteoporosis and osteopenia. Osteoporosis is loss of bone density and it leads to weakened bones that break more easily. Osteopenia is decreased bone density but not to the extent of osteoporosis. A DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan is a test to check the bone mineral density. It is a noninvasive, precise and quick test that involves minimal radiation exposure.
Osteoporosis risk factors
The following is a risk factors that can contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
- Family history: Patients with a family history of decreased bone density have a 50% or more increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Decreased Sex Hormones: Low testosterone and estrogen levels associated with menopause, orchiectomy and some medications.
- Increased age: Most men and women lose about 0.5% bone mass every year after age 50.
- Lifestyle: Decreased calcium and vitamin D, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, or lack of exercise.
- Diseases associated with bone loss: COPD, malabsorption syndrome, hypogonadism, hyperparathyroidism, renal insufficiency, and vitamin D deficiency.
Hormones and bone health
Several factors contribute to loss of bone mineral density, but decreased sex hormone production has the most significant impact on bone mineral density. Low testosterone levels affect bone mineral density in men almost the same as low estrogen levels in women. The use of androgen deprivation therapy (via orchiectomy or medications) causes decreased bone mineral density.
How to improve bone health
There are lifestyle modifications that can contribute to improving bone health. These factors include:
- Smoking cessation.
- Decreased alcohol intake.
- Weight bearing and arm exercises.
- Taking supplements of 1200 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily.
- Calcium rich diet that includes dairy products, salmon, spinach and tofu.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, contact the Austin Center for Radiation Oncology to schedule a consultation with Dr. Richard Garza.