Should I be worried about an increased risk for osteoporosis and osteopenia with Parkinson’s Disease?
There are now over a dozen published studies in the Parkinson’s disease literature and all point to an increased risk of osteopenia (thin bones), and to an increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle and fragile bones). A sobering issue recently raised by Daniel et. al. is that men with Parkinson’s disease are also at risk for having thin bones. Our thinking on bone loss has been evolving and we now believe that the degenerative process in Parkinson’s disease affects the signals that trigger bone growth, thereby putting both genders at risk. We now recommend that both men and women have regular bone health checkups. Having thin bones sets up an increased risk for fractures, and because Parkinson’s patients are at risk for falling it is critically important to keep healthy bones. There are several factors that can help to strengthen your bones including exercise, calcium supplementation, and vitamin D. In more severe cases osteoporosis drugs can also be prescribed. Additionally, some mild exposure to sunlight can be helpful, however remember to wear sunscreen, as Parkinson’s disease patients are at a higher risk for melanoma.
1: Levin RM, Tucci JR.Parkinson’s Disease and Metabolic Bone Disorders: A Common Connection That Needs More Attention. Endocr Pract. 2012 May 1:1-9. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22548948.
2: Daniel SK, Lansang MC, Okun MS. Bone mineral density (BMD) in male patients with Parkinson’s disease. Int J Neurosci. 2012 Apr 18. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22510054.