Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Osteoporosis - What Increases Your Risk

The risk of osteoporosis increases with age as bones naturally become thinner. But it usually doesn't affect people until they are 60 or older.

Family and personal history

Things that increase the risk of osteoporosis include:

  • Having a family history of osteoporosis. If your mother, father, or a sibling has been diagnosed with osteoporosis or has had broken bones from a minor injury, you are more likely to get osteoporosis.
  • Completing menopause. Estrogen protects women from bone loss, and estrogen levels drop after menopause. Women whose ovaries aren't working properly or have been removed also are at risk because of lower estrogen levels.

Lifestyle risks

  • Smoking. People who smoke lose bone thickness faster than nonsmokers.
  • Alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use can decrease bone formation, and it increases the risk of falling. Heavy alcohol use is more than 2 standard drinks camera.gif a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women.
  • Getting little or no exercise. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing, and lifting weights. They keep bones strong and healthy by working the muscles and bones against gravity. Exercise may improve your balance and decrease your risk of falling.
  • Poor diet. A diet low in foods containing calcium and vitamin D increases your risk of thinning bones.

Other things that increase risk

Other risk factors include:

  • Taking corticosteroids or certain other medicines.
  • Being inactive or bedridden for long periods of time.
  • Dieting excessively or having an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa.
  • Being a female athlete if you have few or irregular menstrual cycles due to low body fat.

Find out your fracture risk

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a tool called FRAX. Your doctors might use the FRAX tool to help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool too. Go to the website at, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone density test on your hip, you can enter your score. If you haven't had that test, you can leave the score blank.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Women working out and walking with weights
    Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
    Chinese cabbage
    Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
    woman stretching
    Get the facts on osteoporosis.
    Porous bone
    Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
    senior woman
    Woman holding plate of brocolli
    wrist xray
    Superfood for Bones
    mature woman
    sunlight in hands
    man and woman in front of xray
    woman with dumbbells