Osteoporosis is a disease of progressive bone loss associated with an increased risk of fractures. The term osteoporosis literally means porous bone. The disease often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis often causes a loss of height and dowager's hump (a severely rounded upper back).Why should I be concerned about osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a major health problem, affecting more than 44 million Americans and contributing to an estimated 2 million bone fractures per year. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the number of fractures due to osteoporosis may rise to over 3 million by the year 2025.What causes osteoporosis?
Doctors do not know the exact medical causes of osteoporosis, but they have identified many of the major factors that can lead to the disease.
Everyone loses bone with age. After 35 years of age, the body builds less new bone to replace the loss of old bone. In general, the older you are, the lower your total bone mass and the greater your risk for osteoporosis.
A family history of fractures; a small, slender body build; fair skin; and Caucasian or Asian ethnicity can increase the risk for osteoporosis. Heredity also may help explain why some people develop osteoporosis early in life.
Nutrition and Lifestyle
Poor nutrition, including a low calcium diet, low body weight, and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to osteoporosis, as have smoking and excessive alcohol use.
Medications and Other Illnesses
Osteoporosis has been linked to the use of some medications, including steroids, and to other illnesses, including some thyroid problems.