• Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

    A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop osteoporosis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing osteoporosis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

    Risk Factors for Women

    Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men. This is because they have less bone tissue than men and have a sudden drop in hormones—especially estrogen—at menopause .
    Estrogen Deficiencies
    Estrogen deficiencies occur as a result of:
    • Menopause: Natural or surgical menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis. The risk of fracture increases significantly five years after menopause. Though initial fractures may be in the wrist or spine , these strongly predict the later development of severe osteoporosis and hip fracture .
    • Amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation before menopause): Your risk of osteoporosis increases if you miss menstrual periods for three months or longer. Amenorrhea may occur with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia , or with excessive or intensive exercise, such as long distance running.
    Other Risk Factors
    These are some other risk factors may increase a woman's risk of developing osteoporosis:
    • Family history of osteoporosis
    • Gastrointestinal malabsorption
    • Having another endocrine disorder (eg, thyroid disorder, diabetes)

    Risk Factors for Men

    Men have a higher bone density and lose calcium at a slower rate than women. However, after age 50, bone loss gradually increases. Risk factors for bone loss in men include:
    Hormonal Deficiencies
    In men, deficiencies of testosterone and, to a much minor extent, estrogen play a role in the development of osteoporosis. This may be related to:
    • Advanced age
    • Certain conditions that reduce testosterone levels (eg, mumps , treatment for prostate cancer )
    • Hypogonadism (a severe deficiency in the male sex hormone)

    Risk Factors in Both Sexes

    Dietary Factors
    Your risk of developing osteoporosis increases if you have a restrictive diet (eg, not getting enough calcium or vitamin D ). An excess of phosphorous in your diet may increase your risk if your calcium and/or vitamin D intakes are low. Excessive use of alcohol , coffee, or tea may also increase your risk of osteoporosis.
    Lack of Exercise
    Regular exercise , especially weight-bearing and resistance exercise, helps strengthen bones. Therefore, if you do not exercise on a regular basis, you may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Individuals who do not exercise regularly also tend to have weaker muscles and poorer balance, which can lead to falls and fractures.
    Smoking impairs bone, muscle, and joint health. If you smoke, you have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
    Bone Structure and Body Weight
    Small-boned women and underweight people of both sexes have an increased risk of osteoporosis. Individuals who are short, thin, and have narrow hips are at increased risk of low bone density and fracture.
    Lack of Sunlight
    The effect of sun on the skin is a primary source of vitamin D, which aids bone formation. If you get very little sun exposure and have a low dietary intake of vitamin D, you may be at increased risk of osteoporosis.
    Ethnic Background
    Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than those of other ethnic groups. Though most ethnic studies have focused on women, it is believed that men in these ethnic groups carry a parallel but lower risk.
    The long-term use of certain medicines increases your risk of osteoporosis. Examples include:
    • Corticosteroids
    • Medicines to suppress the immune system
    • Chemotherapy
    • Hormonal therapy
    • Thyroid medicines
    • Antidepressants (eg, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
    • Antiseizure medicines
    • Medicines containing aluminum (eg, certain antacids)
    • Long-term heparin therapy
    • Glitazones (diabetes medicine)
    Talk to your doctor before stopping or reducing your medicine.
    Chronic Diseases
    Certain chronic diseases may increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.
    Diseases During Childhood
    If you had certain conditions during childhood, you may be at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis later in life. Examples of these conditions include:


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