“This is not a lecture on osteoporosis, this is about a love affair,” quipped Professor Behram Anklesaria.
The well known Indian expert on the topic and the founder president of the South Asian Federation of Menopause Societies, shared crucial information about women’s health at a seminar titled ‘New insights into the management of menopause and osteoporosis’ on Monday.
According to the Asian Audit, Pakistan has 10 million women suffering from osteoporosis and another 40 million suffering from osteopenia, a condition in which the bone mineral density is lower than normal. Many experts consider osteopenia a precursor to osteoporosis, which is considered the biggest threat to mobility after 40 years of age. The chances of women suffering from the disease are double the chances for men, and the odds are that there isn’t much you can do once the disease has set in.
Anklesaria advised his listeners to “take care of their ladies” as they held the key to a healthy family. “The Saarc countries consist one-fourth of the world’s population. These people are the crucible,” he said. Around 90% of the world’s maternal mortality rate comes from this region. They will decide what the future of humanity is going to be, in terms of public health in general and women’s health in particular, he said.
The event had begun much later than planned and people were angry about this but Anklesaria’s thirty-minute extempore talk had the magical effect of dissipating most of the anger in the room.
“The first principle of modern day menopause management is individualism,” he explained. “No two women are the same.” Similarly, the osteoporosis treatment for two individuals also differs. No woman behaves the same every day, similarly this disease must be monitored daily and treated accordingly.
According to Anklesaria, the world life expectancy in 1,000 BC was 18 years, in 100 BC it increased to 25 years and in the year 2000 the average life expectancy in the subcontinent was marked at 63 years.
“If we have 210 million women who have osteoporosis, breast cancer and other health issues, it will not be a small problem. We live long lives because we discovered antibiotics and banished the plague but our bodies are not made for this extended life, so we need to take extra care of ourselves,” explained Anklesaria.
Advice on osteoporosis and menopause
Don’t start with drugs, start with a change in your lifestyle - diet and exercise, which includes walking.
Take lots of calcium and vitamin D in the early years of your life, but remember that these will not help once menopause has set in, unless they are taken with calcium absorbers.
Communicate openly with the gynaecologist, they can help you prevent the disease.
If your bone mineral density is less than -1, you need to immediately start taking care to avoid osteoporosis.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2011.