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Kim Mulvihill reportingHalf of all women now over the age of 50 will suffer a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. Now, researchers have found depression can increase your risk.
Many women know that smoking and lack of calcium, or exercise can lead to thinning bones or osteoporosis.
Now scientists think stress, brought on by depression, may be just as harmful.
Researchers with the National Institutes of Health studied more than 130 premenopausal women, most of whom had been diagnosed with depression, for a period of three years.
Depression can cause the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, also neurotransmitters and proteins. All can eat away at bone mass over time. Experts say it's a warning for young patients facing depression. Dr. Giovanni Cizza from the National Institutes of Health, says, "If the stress is chronic, lasts long and is severe, those changes might cause some negative effects … Three percent is about the bone loss we see after one or two years of menopause."
But most of those women were also on anti-depressants, which can also cause bone loss.
And because the study was so small, researchers aren't sure if the bone loss was caused by the drugs, the hormones and proteins, or both.
Some people say you can walk away depression. Walking, weight bearing exercise is a great source of endorphins, the feel good hormones. So, exercise is key both for depression and also to help prevent osteoporosis.
And this problem isn't just for women around menopause. Bones are living, changing tissues. We pay into our ‘bone bank' when we're young, reaching a maximum about age 30 and then slowly start losing more bone as we get older.
Another study out today suggests some children may be at greater risk for osteoporosis down the road because they are getting too little milk for calcium, sunshine for vitamin D, and not enough exercise.