What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist. Understanding Your Risk Certain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. You are more likely to have osteoporosis if you are female, have a thin or small frame, are past menopause and are over the age of 50.

Other risk factors include:

  • Family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • A diet low in calcium and vitamin D
  • Excessive intake of protein, sodium and caffeine
  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Being Caucasian or Asian (Hispanics and African Americans are also at risk)
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
  • Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men
  • Certain diseases and conditions such as anorexia nervosa, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal diseases and others.

Osteoporosis Facts

  • Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of people 50 years of age and older.
  • In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.
  • While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person’s disease, it can strike at any age.
  • Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, eight million are women and two million are men.

Five Steps to Bone Health

  1. Eat Right: Get your daily recommended amounts of Calcium and Vitamin D.
  2. Exercise: Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercise.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  4. Talk to Your Doctor: Talk to your health-care provider about bone health.
  5. Get Tested: Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate.


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