Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease.
Osteoporosis increases the risk for breaking a bone. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bone of the spine) during their lifetime.
Bone is living tissue. Existing bone is constantly being replaced by new bone. Your entire skeleton is replaced about every 10 years. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, when too much existing bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both.
The most important cause of osteoporosis is genetic. This means that you inherit the risk from your parents. Other risks include not having enough calcium to build new bone tissue. Calcium is one of the important minerals needed by your body for bones to form. If you do not get enough calcium and vitamin D, or your body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, your bones may become brittle and more likely to fracture. Other risk factors include smoking and various childhood and adult diseases.
A decrease in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a decrease in testosterone in men is another major cause of bone loss. Other causes of bone loss include:
- Being confined to a bed
- Certain medical conditions
- Taking certain medicines
Other risk factors include:
- Absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea) for long periods of time
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Drinking a large amount of alcohol
- Low body weight