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What Are the Risk Factors of Osteoporosis?

Gender: Osteoporosis can affect men as well as women, but women, who generally have lower bone density than men when they enter adulthood, are at higher risk for a variety of reasons. Although both women and men begin, at around age 30, to undergo some level of bone loss as part of the normal aging process, bone loss in women occurs most rapidly in the first few years after menopause, placing them at higher risk. However, the rate of loss eventually slows, and beginning approximately at age 65 - 70, the bone loss rate for women and men becomes about equal.

At higher risk for osteoporosis are women whose ovaries have been surgically removed, who have never given birth, or have a history of missing menstrual periods for three months or longer.

Age: Well into the early adulthood years, both men and women undergo a cycle of losing bone tissue and replacing it with new tissue, with a net result of gaining bone density until about age 30. From that point, gradual bone density loss with age is natural. Osteoporosis may be the eventual result if the bone-loss process is accelerated by menopause and other factors.

Racial and Ethnic Background: Asian and Caucasian people are at greater risk of osteoporosis than are people of other racial and ethnic groups.

Heredity: The risk is higher of developing osteoporosis among those whose parents have a history of bone fractures (especially hip fractures).

Glandular Disorders: Osteoporosis has also been associated with a history of problems with hormone-producing glands, including the adrenal, thyroid, and parathyroid glands.

Diet and Nutrition: Since calcium is a basic component of bone tissue, insufficient calcium intake increases the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency can also increase osteoporosis risk, since Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Patients with a history of eating disorders or who have had weight-loss surgery are also at higher risk.

Medications: Long-term use of certain prescription drugs can affect the body’s ability to rebuild bone tissue. This includes corticosteroid drugs as well as certain medications used to treat cancer, gastric reflux, or depression, or certain drugs that prevent seizures or rejection of transplants.

Lifestyle Issues: Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and a sedentary lifestyle without regular exercise are among the lifestyle factors that increase risk of osteoporosis.