Are you going to bed with “the silent thief” every night?


Osteoporosis is often known as "the silent thief" because bone loss occurs without any symptoms. You normally find out that you have been "robbed" when it is already too late. Your bones become fragile and the risk of fracture increases particularly of the hip, spine and wrist.

Statistics related to hip fractures are particularly disturbing. Data from the Canadian Osteoporosis Foundation indicate that twenty percent of hip fractures result in death within the first year. Half of those who survive will be significantly disabled. Only a quarter of those afflicted will be able to resume normal activity.

In the 1997 Asian Osteoporosis survey, we found that our local rates of osteoporosis were half that of the United States and rapidly increasing. The incidence of hip fracture amongst individuals above 50 years of age was 90 per 100,000. The incidence can increase by 20 fold by time you reach seventies. The incidence is consistently higher in women. In our community, the Chinese have the highest incidence of hip fractures accounting for 44.8% of hip fractures - that is almost half of all hip fractures!

The "Clinical Practice Guidelines On Management Of Osteoporosis" issued by The Academy Of Medicine of Malaysia states that the No1 cause of osteoporosis is low calcium intake. Bones require calcium to maintain their strength. In the body, calcium is found in four places - skeleton and teeth, cells and blood.

Your body has a carefully regulated system to ensure that a good supply is always - and immediately - available. This is done in three ways:

  • absorb directly from the food
  • from our bones. This can make bones more fragile
  • reduce the loss via the urine

The main goal of good calcium nutrition is to maintain an adequate supply so that our bodies do not have to dip into our only calcium reservoir - our bones. The current intake of calcium in the Malaysian diet is between 300-400mg daily. This is way below the recommended daily intake of 1000-1500mg. Thus, there is a need to supplement calcium.

New technology allows us to improve on nature and to get the best of milk while side stepping the problems associated with it. We can now remove the lactose and casein without compromising the value of the milk minerals. What is left is a powder that is stable and may be incorporated in foods, drinks and even made into pharmaceutical dosage forms like tablets and capsules.

Risk factors for osteoporosis:

Non-modifiable risk factors include:

  • Advancing age
  • Ethnic group (Oriental and Caucasian)
  • Female gender
  • Premature menopause (<45 years)
  • Slender build
  • Family history of osteoporosis in first degree relative

Modifiable factors include:

  • Low calcium intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intak
  • Excessive caffeine intake

Source: Sunday Star, Sunday 4 April 2004 by Dato’ Dr Rajen