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Bone Thinning

Bone thinning is another way to describe bone loss. Bone loss is actually normal for adults Bone-Thinning | Articleafter age 35. It accelerates at menopause, up to 3% bone loss per year, then again slows to about 1%-2% annually in postmenopausal women. 

Contrary to the common perception, bone is a living, changing cellular structure. Osteoblasts in bone build new bone cells.  Osteoclasts scavenge dead or damaged bone cells. When osteoclast activity exceeds osteoblast activity, one experiences bone thinning. 

The University of Michigan describes bone formation and change, which can include bone thinning, as follows:  (http://www.engin.umich.edu/class/bme456/bonephys/bonephys.htm)

“There are three major ways bone tissue may be altered: 1) osteogenesis, 2) modeling and 3) remodeling. The alterations differ basically in the tissue on which bone is placed and the way in which osteoblasts and osteoclasts work together. Osteogenesis is the production of bone on soft tissues, either soft fibrous tissue or cartilage. It is the way in which bones are formed during embryonic development and how bone is initially formed at the site of injury.”

Patients may be prescribed medications called bisphosphonates to slow or reverse bone thinning.  While seemingly prudent, these medications are considered controversial by some.  In 2005, The Boston Globe noted in a piece entitled Be cautious about medications offered for bone thinning:

“Millions of American women are being diagnosed with [bone loss], which is not truly a disease, and many are told to take medication they may not need to prevent broken bones they might never get."


Bone-Thinning | ArticleA healthy diet and lifestyle program can be pursued whether or not you also are taking bisphosphonates. As a first step, leading bone health organizations recommend sufficient calcium and vitamin D intake, either through food, sunlight exposure or dietary supplements. Some calcium forms, such as AdvaCAL, have been clinically shown to increase bone density in postmenopausal women and men as well as in elderly women. Building better bone density early-on may help offset or reduce the impact of  bone thinning