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Women: Low Risk for Osteoporosis

The questions you just answered refer to specific risk factors for osteoporosis. Your answers suggest that your bone mineral density (BMD) is likely to be average or above average, which means you are at lower risk for developing osteoporosis as you age. But your bones will naturally thin as you age. And all women have some risk for osteoporosis.

Things that increase the risk for osteoporosis in women include:

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  • Age. Your risk for osteoporosis goes up as you get older. But it usually does not affect people until they are 60 or older.
  • Family history (mother, father, or sibling) of osteoporosis or of easily or unexplained broken bones.
  • Lifestyle or environmental factors such as:
    • Smoking.
    • Frequent use of alcohol.
    • Getting little or no weight-bearing exercise.
    • Thin body build.
    • A diet low in foods containing calcium and vitamin D.
  • Decreasing levels of estrogen.
  • Hyperparathyroidism or other conditions that make the body unable to absorb enough calcium.
  • Using medicines such as corticosteroids, aromatase inhibitors, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, or too much thyroid replacement.
  • Being of European or Asian ancestry.
  • Using anticonvulsant medicines such as carbamazepine.
  • Taking certain antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Having certain surgeries, such as having your ovaries removed before menopause.

If you do have other risk factors, you may want to talk with your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women age 65 and older routinely have a bone mineral density test to screen for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk for fractures caused by osteoporosis, routine screening should begin sooner.1 USPSTF recommends that you and your doctor check your fracture risk using a tool such as FRAX to help decide whether you should be screened for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to start bone mineral density screening.

The FRAX tool was developed by the World Health Organization to help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool. Go to the website at, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone mineral density test (BMD) on your hip, you can type in your score. If you have not had that test, you can leave the score blank.


  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2011). Screening for Osteoporosis: Recommendation Statement. Available online:

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised November 10, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 10, 2010
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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