Skip to content

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 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 30, 2013
    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.
    1
    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.
     
    Lactose Intolerance
    Article
    Woman holding plate of brocolli
    Article
     
    Dairy products
    Tool
    Superfood for Bones
    Slideshow
     
    Screening Tests for Women
    Slideshow
    exercise endometrial cancer
    Article
     
    hand holding medicine
    Article
    Working Out With Osteoporosis
    Video