The Deep Connection Between Lupus and Osteoporosis
Lupus no longer poses as much of an obstacle as before. As a matter of fact, 80 to 90 percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with lupus live a normal life span due to the amount of progress made in treatments. However, one catch remains, and that is that lupus patients may have a higher probability of developing osteoporosis. This state of having brittle bones happens to be a frequent complication of SLE.
However, there are measures that a person can take to decrease the risk of getting osteoporosis and to protect bone strength.
Over 53 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 16% of women over the age of 50 and about 4% of men in that same age bracket have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Although it appears that women are the most affected, this condition is still a cause of concern for both genders considering the connection between these two ailments. Up to two thirds of people with SLE also develop osteoporosis.
The underlying issues?
In healthy bones, cells are constantly regenerating, but when a person has lupus, this process of replacing the old with the new is hindered. When new cells are not created as quickly as before, bone tissue becomes thin and much more susceptible to fractures.
Such is the case with lupus which seems to increase the chances of developing osteoporosis. As mentioned, a high percentage of people who suffer from lupus also end up dealing with fragile bones. At the same time, there are many different issues that can contribute to the onset of osteoporosis, like age and diet.
Nevertheless, scientists are directing their research toward the body’s effects from lupus itself. Other issues that are associated with SLE that facilitate the development of osteoporosis include:
- Low levels of vitamin D
- Lack of movement
Inflammation—the major culprit
Inflammation, one of the common traits of lupus, impacts the blood vessels directly and profoundly. If inflammation is not managed, the bone cells are deprived of valuable oxygen and nutrients needed to thrive and multiply. Hence, bone strength is severely compromised.
Not enough of a good thing
Another connection between lupus and osteoporosis is the body’s lack of vitamin D. Many lupus patients have to take extra precautions with their skin. Often, they don’t get adequate exposure to the sun which prompts the body to produce vitamin D. Also, another lupus-related complication is kidney failure, which also lowers vitamin D levels in the body. Either way, this nutrient is vital to the process of absorbing calcium and strengthening bones, and when this process is obstructed, again, bones are weakened.