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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Causes of Spinal Compression Fractures

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Who Is at Highest Risk for Spinal Compression Fractures?

Two groups of people are at highest risk for spinal compression fractures:

  • People with the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis.
  • People with cancer that has spread to their bones.

If you have been diagnosed with certain kinds of cancer -- including multiple myeloma and lymphoma -- your doctor may monitor you for compression fractures. However, sometimes a spinal fracture may be the first indication of cancer.

But if you have osteoporosis, you may not even know it.

Here are the leading risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Race: White and Asian women have the greatest risk.
  • Age: The risk rises rapidly in women over 50 and increases with age.
  • Weight: Thin women are at higher risk.
  • Early Menopause: Women who went through menopause before age 50 have higher risk.
  • Smokers: People who smoke lose bone thickness faster than nonsmokers.

Statistically, among people over age 50, osteoporosis strikes:

  • 20% of white and Asian women
  • 10% of Hispanic women
  • 5% of black women
  • 5% of men

And among those who develop compression fractures, studies indicate they face a 23% increase in mortality.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on February 23, 2014
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