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Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by the progressive thinning and weakening of bone, which is represented clinically by the loss of bone mass and density. The word literally means “porous bone.”  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 53-million individuals in the United States either have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing the disease. It is more common among the elderly, especially women. The disease increases the risk of fracturing bones, especially in the wrist, hip, and spine. Fractures due to osteoporosis can be disabling and can even greatly increase the risk of death.

Ten risk factors for osteoporosis are…

1. Gender

Gender is a risk factor for osteoporosis that is uncontrollable.  Women are 4-times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.  Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing the disease. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, one of every two women over age 50 will likely have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime and 75-percent of all cases of hip osteoporosis affect women.

The higher risk for osteoporosis in women is a direct result of reduced estrogen levels at menopause.  Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle of women, but it also plays a role in keeping bones strong and healthy.  The dramatic drop in estrogen production due to menopause translates into a significant loss of bone mass and density. In fact, the majority of the loss of bone mass in women occurs the in the years immediately after menopause.

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