Inflammation: The Silent Bone Killer

arthritisChronic inflammation is an epidemic that silently affects countless North Americans, increasing their risk of chronic disease. What you may not know about inflammation, however, is that there is a long established connection between inflammation and bone disorders.

Your bones are constantly undergoing a cycle of building (formation) and degrading (resorption). Normally bone resorption prompts bone formation; the two processes work in tandem to maintain a healthy bone mass. Chronic inflammation negatively impacts this process and it can cause your bones to break down at a much faster rate than they rebuild [i]. This gradually weakens your bone structure and vastly increases your risk for bone disorders [ii]. Since many of us don’t realize chronic inflammation is an issue, take a look at these risk factors and see if you need to talk to your doc about inflammation:

Obesity: Fat tissue, particularly around the waistline, increases the output of inflammatory hormones and cells [iii].

Diet: Nutritional deficiencies; too much saturated fat, trans fat and sugar; as well as overeating in general, are all associated with chronic inflammation [iv].

Smoking: Cigarettes contain several inflammatory chemicals and smoking increases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers) [v].

Age: Older people have a higher risk of chronic inflammation [vi].

Low Sex Hormones: Estrogen and testosterone appear to help prevent the release of inflammatory cells and a deficiency of these two hormones is often linked to chronic inflammation [vii].

Sleep Disorders: Sleep disturbances can cause increased inflammation [viii].

Sedentary Lifestyle: Physical activity helps keep inflammation at bay [ix].

Chronic Inflammation and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that causes your bones to become both weak and brittle and increases your risk for bone fractures. Studies have found that the presence of inflammation-promoting cytokines (cell messengers) causes increased bone resorption and can lead to the bone loss that is associated with osteoporosis [x]. It is likely no coincidence that four of the seven causes of inflammation (smoking, low sex hormones, sedentary lifestyle and nutritional deficiencies) are also associated with an increased risk for osteoporosis.

Chronic Inflammation and Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory joint disorder that is directly linked to chronic inflammation and reducing inflammation can help reduce RA symptoms. While osteoarthritis is often referred to as ‘non-inflammatory’ arthritis, scientists are now realizing that it too, has its roots in chronic inflammation [xi]. A significant number of osteoarthritis sufferers have ongoing inflammation of the synovial membranes (a condition called synovitis) and researchers now believe that this inflammation is responsible for the development of osteoarthritis [xii].

Chronic Inflammation and Delayed Bone Healing

When a bone fracture occurs, inflammation occurs along with it and lasts for several days. The inflammation at the site of the bone fracture is beneficial and essential for healing, however, researchers have discovered that when inflammation is chronic and widespread throughout the body, fracture healing actually becomes impaired [xiii]. Scientists don’t know the exact reason why systemic inflammation impairs bone healing yet, but investigations are underway to find the answer.

Chronic inflammation doesn’t only put your bones at risk, it also increases your risk for a variety of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, periodontal disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. Fortunately chronic inflammation is something that most of us can overcome through a combination of diet and lifestyle modifications. For a personalized inflammation-fighting regime, book a one-on-one consult with one of our holistic health experts.


References:

[i] http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/201/3/309.long
[ii] http://www.jleukbio.org/content/89/5/669.full
[iii], [iv], [v], [vi], [vii], [viii], [ix] http://www.lef.org/Protocols/Health-Concerns/Chronic-Inflammation/Page-02
[x] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240539
[xi], [xii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638313/
[xiii] http://www.jleukbio.org/content/89/5/669.full