According to Osteoporosis Canada, one in three women and one in five men will break a bone due to osteoporosis. It’s a disease characterized by bones becoming extremely brittle due to a reduction in density. Brittle bones are much more likely to break in a fall. (Indeed, many people first discover they have osteoporosis when they seek medical attention for a bone-breaking fall.)

While there are many factors that can diminish bone health, the chance of acquiring osteoporosis clearly increases with age. This is particularly worrisome, as 20% of seniors who break a hip die within a year, due to complications. Anyone over 50 who breaks a bone should ask their healthcare practitioner for a test of bone density.

On a cellular level, healthy bone is constantly being replaced (most of your skeleton is actually fully replaced every ten years or so). Osteoporosis occurs when new bone cell generation is diminished.  

Most readers of this site are familiar with the importance of the endocannabinoid system in regulating physiological functions. Research has linked the system’s receptors (CB1 and CB2) to the development of age-related osteoporosis. Studies on mice revealed that these receptors protect bone by regulating the rate at which bone material is broken down and reabsorbed. These results point toward the possible use of cannabinoids such as THC and CBG in preventing bone degeneration.

Not coincidentally, age-related diseases appear to be driving increased use of cannabis among older adults. According to a recent CBS article, seniors are the fasted growing demographic for cannabis consumption in America.

What’s turning around the traditionally negative attitudes seniors hold toward cannabis? There are many, but certainly one important contributing factor is that the stigma once attached to cannabis use is diminishing(witness the progress toward fully legalizing cannabis in Canada). Another is the growing practice of supplementing or even replacing opioid pain medications with cannabis, the benefit being equal or better results along with fewer negative side effects. And, although medical research into the efficacy of cannabis is still in its early stages, that hasn’t stopped great numbers of older patients from trying this medicine, and finding out—for them—that it works.

To find out more about Osteoperosis Month, please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dar.12323/abstract, and show your support by wearing your Purple Proud!