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Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density or thinning of the bones. This
thinning causes bone weakness, and eventually the involved bone may break.
What is going on in the body?
Bones go through a constant state of bone loss and regrowth. People reach their
peak bone mass by about age 30. After the age of 30, bone loss slowly begins to
occur. This loss, if it becomes severe, can lead to osteoporosis. The bones
become thin and fragile and may break easily.
Initially, bone loss occurs very slowly for both women and men. After the age
65 to 70, men begin to lose bone more rapidly. Women, on the other hand,
begin to lose bone more rapidly after they reach menopause and the body's estrogen level falls.
may also begin to lose bone more rapidly if they have their ovaries removed
during surgery before they reach menopause.
Bone is made up of calcium and proteins. There are two types of
bone: compact and spongy. Each bone in the body has both types of bone in
different amounts. The first signs of osteoporosis are seen in bones that have
a lot of spongy bone. These include the hip, spine, and wrist bones.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Some risk factors for osteoporosis cannot be changed. These
Age. Bone density decreases with age.
Body size. Women with small, thin bodies are at the highest
Ethnic background. Caucasian and Asian women are
at the highest risk, while Latino and African American women are at somewhat
Family history. Reduced bone mass and risk for bone fractures
seem to run in some families.
Gender. Women have less dense bones than men and lose more
bone mass during and after menopause.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis can be changed, such as:
a diet low in calcium
and vitamin D
eating disorders, such as
low hormone levels associated with
medicines such as corticosteroids, certain medicines for seizures or high blood pressure
Some of the diseases and conditions that can increase an
individual's risk for osteoporosis are as follows:
cancers affecting the
eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
hyperparathyroidism, a condition in which the parathyroid gland
makes too much parathyroid hormone
hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too
much thyroid hormone
condition in which the ovaries in women or testes in men do not function
, a condition in which the body attacks its own joint tissue