Osteoporosis is a condition where, over time, your bones become thin and brittle and are more likely to break. For most people, osteoporosis is linked to aging.
If you have gone through natural menopause (due to your age), you are not at increased risk for osteoporosis because of your treatment. You should be screened for osteoporosis at your annual check-up with your family doctor.
If you had a cancer treatment that caused you to start menopause early, osteoporosis is now a risk for you. Get screened for osteoporosis by your family doctor.
Based on the type of cancer treatment(s) you had, your body may now make less estrogen. Treatments that may affect your body making estrogen include:
- Surgery to remove your uterus and ovaries
- Radiation therapy to your pelvis
- Some types of chemotherapy
Estrogen is made by the ovaries, and protects your bones. Any treatment that impacts your ovaries can cause your body to make less estrogen, which means that your bones will not get the same level of protection.
What you can do
- Work with your family doctor. If you are going through menopause caused by your cancer treatment, and are younger than 50, ask your family doctor to screen you for osteoporosis. It is important to ask your family doctor to screen you because screening for osteoporosis is usually not done for women under age 50.
- Be proactive. Certain things can speed up bone loss or slow down bone growth, and this can lead to osteoporosis. For example, alcohol, cigarettes, and some medicines reduce bone mass. Some foods make it hard for your body to absorb calcium, which can lead to weaker bones.
There are many things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Alcohol is a major cause of bone loss. Heavy drinking can cause osteoporosis even if you have no other risk factors.
- Don’t smoke or cut back on the number of cigarettes you smoke. Smoking reduces bone mass and interferes with estrogen levels.
- Be active. Inactivity makes your bones lose strength and become thinner. Over time, thin bones may break. Women who aren't active are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
- Talk to your doctor about your medicines. Certain medicines such as cortisone increase bone loss. They also decrease bone growth. Ask your health care provider about any side effects of your medicines and how they may impact osteoporosis.
- Watch what you eat. Protein-rich or salty foods eaten in large amounts may deplete your calcium.
- Don’t drink or eat food with caffeine at the same time as having your calcium-rich food/ drink (like milk, yogurt, cheese etc.) Caffeine increases calcium loss. People who drink a lot of coffee, tea, or colas lose more calcium than those who don't.