Culture Bound Syndromes; Osteoporosis and Lactose Intolerance in Asian Americans

Culture Bound Syndromes; Osteoporosis and lactose intolerance in Asian Americans

When one mentions the term culture-bound syndrome, he or she is refereeing to a disease, disorder or an illness that occurs only within the confines of a particular cultural group. It is therefore not recognized as a disease or ailment in a different society or culture. This paper is a discussion of osteoporosis and lactose intolerance among the Asian Americans.

Approximately 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. The condition means they develop problems with their digestion whenever they take foods with lactose. The primary source of lactose in our diet is in milk and other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, etc. a majority of the Asian American are therefore unable to take milk or its products (Tung, 2012). It so happens that milk and its listed products make up the primary source of calcium for the body. Now, calcium is an essential component in the process of bone formation (Irvin et al., 2013).

Consequently, when it is limited or no supply of calcium the bone frame becomes small and is highly susceptible to fractures of the hip, vertebrae, wrist, etc. The resultant reduction in the bone mass density is known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can cause disability, height loss, and immobility to the Asian Americans (Tung, 2012). Most of the Asian Americans will have a family history of osteoporosis; this factor contributes to confining the condition within the Asian Americans. The disease is likely to stay in the lineage because every family member is at risk because of the family and genetic linkage that is a predisposing factor for the condition (Irvin et al., 2013). It also doesn’t help the situation knowing that event the new family members will have lactose intolerance.

The Asian Americans can turn to alternative sources of calcium in steamed broccoli, canned sardines, bone soup. Dire cases can seek calcium supplementation.



Irvin, V., Nichols, J., Hofstetter, C., Ojeda, V., Song, Y., Kang, S., & Hovell, M. (2013). Osteoporosis and Milk Intake Among Korean Women in California: Relationship with Acculturation to U.S. Lifestyle. Journal Of Immigrant And Minority Health15(6), 1119-1124.

Tung, W. (2012). Osteoporosis Among Asian American Women. Home Health Care Management & Practice24(4), 205-207.