Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Who Gets Osteoporosis?
In the United States, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.
Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women and at any age, but it is most common in older women.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Many risk factors can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Some of these things you cannot change and others you can.
Risk factors you cannot change include:
Gender. Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
Age. The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
Body size. Small, thin women are at greater risk.
Ethnicity. White and Asian women are at highest risk. Black and Hispanic women have a lower risk.
Family history. Osteoporosis tends to run in families. If a family member has osteoporosis or breaks a bone, there is a greater chance that you will too.
Other risk factors are:
Sex hormones. Low estrogen levels due to missing menstrual periods or to menopause can cause osteoporosis in women. Low testosterone levels can bring on osteoporosis in men.
Anorexia nervosa. This eating disorder can lead to osteoporosis.
Calcium and vitamin D intake. A diet low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to bone loss.
Medication use. Some medicines increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Activity level. Lack of exercise or long-term bed rest can cause weak bones.
Smoking. Cigarettes are bad for bones, and the heart, and lungs, too.
Drinking alcohol. Too much alcohol can cause bone loss and broken bones.
Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?
There are many steps you can take to help keep your bones healthy. To help keep your bones strong and slow down bone loss, you can:
Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
Not drink in excess or smoke.