New Delhi: Working for long hours every night as a BPO employee, 35-year-old Aarti Thakur soon developed pain in her wrist and hips. She had developed Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of exposure to sunlight and her bones were beginning to turn brittle - signs of the onset of osteoporosis.
Long hours of work at night coupled with not enough exposure to sunlight and unhealthy diet leads to early onset of osteoporosis.
In India, one in three women over the age of 50 suffer fractures due to osteoporosis, a condition where bones wear out and become weak. Drinking less milk, avoiding sunlight exposure, omitting exercises and unhealthy diet are a few reasons, say experts.
Osteoporosis causes the bones to become fragile, increasing the chances of fracture and even minor injury. The symptoms of the ailment include back pain or tenderness, a loss of height, and a slight curvature or `hump` of the upper back.
According to orthopaedicians, in India about 26 million people suffer from osteoporosis, of which 70 percent comprise women. This number is expected to reach 36 million by 2013.
"During menopause the level of estrogen produced by the ovaries decreases significantly leading to an increased risk of bone loss. As women age estrogen levels decrease and the risk of osteoporosis increases. During childbirth women lose a lot of calcium that is often not replenished. So women between 45 to 50 years of age who have irregular periods should start with calcium supplements," Pankaj Walecha, senior consultant, orthopedics, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, said.
"Usually we see fractures in the wrist, hip and spine area," Walecha said.
Ispita Gaur, 45, a MNC employee and mother of two, said she developed osteoporosis six months ago. She regrets that she had never exercised earlier.
"My work hours would extend beyond ten hours, and I never concentrated on my diet. I used to grab a burger and cold drink whenever I was hungry. On top of that I never made time for exercise, which has led me to this," regrets Gaur.
Orthopedicians recommend weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, racket sports as these are more effective in maintaining the density of the leg and spinal bones.
"Regular exercise, for example a brisk walk of about 30 minutes everyday, inclusion of more dairy products, egg white, salmon fish in diet would lower the risk of osteoporosis," S Rajasekaran, president, Indian orthopaedic association said.
Apart from this doctors inform that many men and women in India keep away from sunlight - a good source of Vitamin D.
"Exposure to sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day is necessary. Drinking glass of milk rich in calcium lowers the chance of bone loss since calcium is one of the main components in bone; over 70 percent of women develop osteoporosis," said Vineet Suri, senior consultant of neurology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Osteoporosis also affects 40 percent of men who are regular smokers and who have a high intake of alcohol and caffeine.
"Adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and routine bone density checks after 40 years of age for women and 55 years for men will help them form a healthy bone mass and ensure fracture-free life," Rajasekaran added.