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Types of Osteoporosis

Did you know there are different types of osteoporosis? While white women are at the greatest risk, the disease does not discriminate. Men and women of all ethnic groups can develop osteoporosis. So can children and teenagers.

Osteoporosis Risk in Men and Women.

Women experience more rapid bone loss in their 50s than men do. By the time they're both in their late 60s, though, men and women lose bone mass at the same rate. Statistics show that 2 million men have osteoporosis today. Another 12 million are at risk. And one out of every four men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

When Does a Woman's Risk of Osteoporosis Rise?

A woman's risk of osteoporosis rises sharply after menopause. This is especially true for white women and Asian women. It's also especially true for women who have small, thin frames. 

Why Are Younger Women at Risk of Osteoporosis?

Teens and college-age women who are thin and who exercise excessively are at a high risk of not having menstrual periods. This is a condition called amenorrhea. Loss of menstrual periods is linked to decreased estrogen levels. Decreased levels of estrogen may cause osteoporosis. A diet low in calcium and other bone-boosting nutrients can also contribute to low bone density.

Teenage girls who restrict their eating and who lack menstrual periods are at risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Young female athletes who try to reach a low body weight for running or dancing are more likely to not have periods. So are those who compete in scoring sports such as gymnastics and figure skating.

A young female athlete who appears to be in top physical condition often has the highest risk of low bone density -- osteoporosis -- and fracture, especially if she has an eating disorder and lacks periods. In fact, a fracture may be the sign that first alerts the doctor there is a problem. Up to 30% of ballet dancers suffer from repeated stress fractures, which can be a sign of eating disorders and low body weight.

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