Osteoporosis occurs when bones become less dense from a loss of calcium. This causes bones to weaken and break easily. Women are more likely than men to have osteoporosis, although a man’s risk for osteoporosis increases with age and other risk factors.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a ‘silent disease’ because you may not know you have it until you have serious signs of the disease. Signs include low back pain, a hunched back or fractures (broken bones). Fractures are most common in the hip, vertebrae (bones of the spine) and wrist.
Prevention of osteoporosis should start early in life. Most adults will start to lose bone mass in their mid-thirties. Bone loss in women increases significantly after menopause. Having optimal bone mass in adolescence or early adulthood may decrease your risk of serious effects of the disease.
Are you at risk for Osteoporosis?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the following may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Thin or small frame
- Increased age
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Post-menopause, including early or surgically induced menopause
- Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
- Past history of eating disorders anorexia nervosa or bulimia
- A lifelong diet low in calcium and vitamin D
- Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and some anticonvulsants
- Low testosterone levels (in men)
- An inactive lifestyle
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive use of alcohol and caffeine
- Being Caucasian or Asian
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