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Osteoporosis Statistic
Number of Americans with low bone density (34 million) or osteoporosis (10 million).
*Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation

Osteoporosis Overview

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease in which the bones become weak due to decreased bone mineral density. Over time, the loss of mass weakens bones and makes them more likely to fracture - especially in the hip, spine and wrist.

Eighty percent of Americans with osteoporosis are women. Reasons for this include:

  • Women have less bone mass to begin with than men
  • Women tend to live longer than men
  • Women take in less calcium than men
  • The rate of bone loss in women speeds up after menopause when estrogen levels fall
  • Since the ovaries make estrogen, faster bone loss in women may also occur if both ovaries are removed by surgery

Men are at risk of getting osteoporosis later in life

You may not know you have osteoporosis until you begin to display symptoms, which often don’t show until after a significant amount of bone loss has occurred. Symptoms of osteoporosis include:

  • Frequent broken bones or fractures
  • Low back pain
  • A hunched back
  • Shrinking as osteoporosis causes your vertebrae to collapse

Your WellStar physician can work with you on a plan to minimize your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Risk Factors

Osteoporosis most commonly affects post-menopausal women, but other groups carry high incidences, including the elderly and people of Asian and Caucasian descent. Factors that can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include:

  • Family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
  • Thin body and small bones
  • Certain race/ethnicities including Caucasian, Asian or Hispanic/Latino, although African Americans are also at risk
  • History of broken bones
  • Low sex hormones (estrogen)
  • Early menopause, before age 45
  • Missing periods (amenorrhea)
  • Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men
  • Low calcium and vitamin D intake
  • Excessive intake of protein, sodium and caffeine
  • Inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Long-term use of steroid medications, some anticonvulsants and other medications
  • Diseases, conditions and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal diseases, hyperthyroidism and others

Let your WellStar physician know if you have any of these risk factors.