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Published on May 10, 2021

illustration of healthy bone vs bone with osteoporosis

Top 5 Risks for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that puts millions of Americans at risk for bone breaks or fractures. As we age and live our lives, some of the choices we make and conditions we face make an impact on our bones. Part of living our healthiest lives is awareness of the risks that we face, and a willingness to correct those that we can control.

Here are some of the things that put you at the greatest risk for osteoporosis.

Gender: Just being a woman puts you at increased risk for bone loss. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. Women lose bone more quickly following menopause which increases the risk. Be sure you talk with your doctor about your specific risks as you age. Things like early menopause (before age 45) or hysterectomy (especially if your ovaries are also removed) will place you in menopause sooner and increase your chances of bone loss.

Age: We all age and, as we do, we lose bone gradually and our risk of developing osteoporosis increases. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related break/fracture during their lifetime. Though you cannot stop the march of time, you can take steps to strengthen your bones to help prevent bone loss, such as doing weight-bearing exercise and getting vitamin D and calcium in your diet. Your bones are being built and strengthened while you are in your teens and 20s.

If you are in this age group, then take the opportunity to get plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercise. If you are out of your 20s already (like this blogger) it is still important to get calcium and vitamin D in your diet or through appropriate supplementation. Also, do not neglect weight-bearing exercise in your routine as this can help you keep the bone strength that you have built.

If osteoporosis is detected, not only will you need to maintain healthy habits, but treatment will likely be necessary in the form of medication.

Family history and ethnicity: Heredity also contributes to the risk of developing osteoporosis. If your parents have a history of breaking a hip or being diagnosed with osteoporosis, then your risk of developing it is higher as well. People with Caucasian and Asian backgrounds also have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Smoking and alcohol use: Not only does smoking increase your risk of many types of cancer as well as heart disease, it also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. If you smoke, quit, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. There are tools available to help you stop. Drinking alcohol regularly also increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Avoiding or moderating alcohol use can help you to decrease this risk.

Chronic conditions and treatments: Some medical conditions and/or their treatments increase the risk for osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease are just a few of the conditions that can increase your risk for osteoporosis. Also, medications taken continually for treatment of seizures, lung disease and other chronic conditions can also increase your risk. If you have or are being treated for a chronic medical condition, discuss your risks with your primary care provider as early screening for osteoporosis maybe needed.

Schedule an appointment with your provider to talk about your bone health and whether an osteoporosis screening is right for you.

In addition, check with your insurance provider about coverage; an osteoporosis screening is a covered screening for some women age 50 and older.

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