Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of breaking a bone. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bones of the spine) during their lifetime. Spine fractures are the most common.
Your body needs the minerals calcium and phosphate to make and keep healthy bones.
- During your life, your body continues to both reabsorb old bone and create new bone.
- As long as your body has a good balance of new and old bone, your bones stay healthy and strong.
- Bone loss occurs when more old bone is reabsorbed than new bone is created.
Sometimes, bone loss occurs without any known cause. Other times, bone loss and thin bones run in families. In general, white, elderly women are the most likely to have bone loss.
Brittle, fragile bones can be caused by anything that makes your body destroy too much bone, or keeps your body from making enough new bone. As you age, your body may reabsorb calcium and phosphate from your bones instead of keeping these minerals in your bones. This makes your bones weaker.
A major risk is not having enough calcium to build new bone tissue. It is important to eat enough high-calcium foods. You also need vitamin D, since it helps your body absorb calcium. Your bones may become brittle and more likely to fracture if:
- If you do not eat enough food with calcium and vitamin D
- Your body does not absorb enough calcium from your food, such as after gastric bypass surgery
Other causes of bone loss include:
- A decrease in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a decrease in testosterone in men as they age.
- Being confined to a bed due to a prolonged illness (mostly affects bone in children)
- Having certain medical conditions that cause increased inflammation in the body
- Taking certain medicines, such as certain seizure medicines, hormone treatments for prostate or breast cancer, and steroid medicines taken for more than 3 months
Other risk factors include:
- Absence of menstrual periods for long periods of time
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Drinking a large amount of alcohol
- Low body weight
- Having an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa