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Osteoporosis Health Center

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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 www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX, 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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 06, 2012
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.
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