Exploring the Link Between Lupus and Osteoporosis

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can attack any part of the body and lead to many different health problems, including osteoporosis.

MORE: Nine tips to help you live better with lupus. 

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones. It decreases bone density, making them susceptible to breaks and fractures. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 53 million people in America may either have osteoporosis or be at high risk of developing the condition due to having low bone mass.

There are many different reasons why a person may develop osteoporosis, including being underweight, smoking, excessive drinking, low calcium intake, family history of the disease, not getting enough exercise, and being either postmenopausal or going through early menopause. Certain drugs used to treat diseases such as lupus, asthma, and thyroid problems can also lead to loss of bone mass.

Researchers have found that people living with lupus are more at risk of developing osteoporosis for several reasons:

  1. Glucocorticoid medications prescribed to lupus patients can contribute to declining bone density.
  2. The lupus disease itself can attack bone density. Women are already at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, and since lupus tends to affect women more than men, this increases their risk even more.
  3. Pain and fatigue are two are the most common lupus symptoms, and often lead to people choosing not to exercise which can also lead to lower bone mass.

To reduce the risk of osteoporosis people with lupus are advised to exercise regularly (particularly weight-bearing exercise), maintain a healthy body weight, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and not to smoke or drink alcohol excessively.

MORE: Nine important facts about lupus you may not know. 

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