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  • Dr. Pragati Singhal
  • 2 July 2024

Breast cancer is a challenging journey that impacts various aspects of a woman's health. While much focus is given to the direct effects of breast cancer and its treatment, one important area that often goes overlooked is bone health. Understanding the connection between breast cancer and bone health, and knowing how to take preventative measures, can play a crucial role in overall well-being during and after treatment.

The Link between Breast Cancer and Bone Health

Breast cancer treatments, particularly chemotherapy, can significantly affect bone health. Chemotherapy has the potential to cause early menopause by affecting the ovaries. This early onset of menopause leads to a decrease in estrogen production, a hormone vital for maintaining bone density. Estrogen helps to protect bones, and when its levels drop, bones can become weaker and more prone to fractures.

For women aged 45 or younger who experience menopause as a result of chemotherapy, the risk of osteoporosis increases. Even if their periods restart, the temporary loss of estrogen can lead to reduced bone density. Moreover, research has shown that postmenopausal women undergoing chemotherapy may experience a greater loss of bone density than they would have otherwise. This makes it essential for women undergoing breast cancer treatment to be aware of their bone health and take steps to protect it.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Bone Density Loss

It's important to recognize the symptoms of bone density loss to take timely action. Some signs include:

1. Back pain

This can be a result of a fractured or collapsed vertebra.

2. Loss of height over time

A noticeable decrease in height can indicate bone density loss.

3. A stooped posture

Often called a "dowager's hump," this can be a sign of weakened bones.

4. Fractures that occur more easily than expected 

Bones that break from minor injuries or falls can be a red flag.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's crucial to speak with your healthcare provider for an assessment of your bone health.

Preventative Measures for Maintaining Bone Health

Taking proactive steps to maintain bone health can make a significant difference. Here are some effective preventative measures:

1. Calcium and Vitamin D Intake

Ensure you consume enough calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are vital for bone health. Calcium can be found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and can be obtained from sunlight exposure, fatty fish, and supplements if necessary.

2. Regular Exercise

Engage in weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and resistance training help build and maintain bone density. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

3. Healthy Diet

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains supports overall health, including bone health. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can negatively impact bone density.

4. Bone Density Testing

Discuss with your healthcare provider about bone density testing. This test can help determine your bone strength and risk of fractures, allowing for early intervention if necessary.

5. Medications and Supplements

In some cases, your doctor may recommend medications or supplements to help protect your bones. Bisphosphonates, for example, can help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures in women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Understanding the connection between breast cancer and bone health is crucial for women undergoing treatment. By recognizing the risks and taking preventative measures, you can help protect your bones and maintain your overall health. Regular check-ups, a healthy diet, exercise, and possibly medications are key strategies in ensuring strong bones during and after breast cancer treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive plan tailored to your individual needs.

"With Compassion & Expertise, Dr. Pragati Singhal Guiding You Towards Recovery"


Breast Cancer Basics Women's Health Prevention and Wellness Patient Support and Recovery Bone Health