You probably know some of the leading risk factors for osteoporosis -- being
female and past menopause, smoking, or having a small frame. But did you know
that some fairly common medical conditions are also among the causes of
osteoporosis bone loss?
If you have one of these conditions, either because of the disease itself or
because of the medications you have to take to manage it, you face an increased
risk of developing osteoporosis:
Your bones are alive and constantly growing -- not static, like you see them drawn in books. Bones continually change throughout your life, with some bone cells dissolving and new bone cells growing back in a process called remodeling. With this lifelong turnover of bone cells, you replace most of your skeleton every 10 years.
But for people with osteoporosis -- a thinning of the bones -- bone loss outpaces the growth of new bone. Bones become porous, brittle, and prone to fracture. Look at an...
For reasons scientists still don't fully understand, people with type 1
diabetes tend to have lower bone density.
Studies show that people with type 1 diabetes may have low bone turnover and
lower than normal bone formation.
"It seems that high blood sugar may shut down bone formation, just as
with steroids," says Beatrice Edwards, MD, MPH, associate professor of
medicine and director of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Since type 1 diabetes
usually develops in childhood, when the body is still building bone, someone
with type 1 diabetes may never have the opportunity to reach their peak bone
Even if their bone mass isn't that much lower than normal, people with both
type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a much higher risk of fractures than other
people, adds Edwards.
2. Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Nearly 3 million adults in the U.S. have either lupus or rheumatoid
arthritis. Both of these diseases are autoimmune conditions, in which the body
attacks its own healthy cells and tissues, causing inflammation.
Any chronic inflammatory disease can put you at greater risk of
osteoporosis, says Edwards, because it appears to increase the rate of bone
turnover, in which old bone is replaced with healthy new bone. People with both
lupus and RA usually take corticosteroids for an extended period of time to
manage their symptoms. Long-term use of steroids such as prednisone is also a
leading cause of osteoporosis, possibly because they slow the activity of
Lupus is a particular problem because it is common in women between the ages
of 15 and 45 -- often during the peak bone-building years up to age 30.
"Anything that impedes the growth of bone during these years puts you at
greater risk for osteoporosis," says Edwards.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland -- a small, butterfly-shaped
gland at the base of the neck -- becomes overactive and produces too much
"Hyperthyroidism increases the number of bone-remodeling cycles you go
through," explains Edwards. "And after age 30, every bone-remodeling
cycle is inefficient. You lose bone mass rather than building it. So the more
cycles you go through, the more bone mass you lose."
Hyperparathyroidism, a similar condition involving related, but different
glands, also ups the risk of osteoporosis.