Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease
    characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue,
    leading to bone fragility and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine,
    and wrist. Men as well as women are affected by osteoporosis, a disease that can
    be prevented and treated.

    Facts and Figures

    Osteoporosis is a major public health threat
    for 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women.
    In the U.S. today,
    10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 34 million more have low
    bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease.
    One out of every
    two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture
    in their lifetime.
    More than 2 million American men suffer from
    osteoporosis, and millions more are at risk. Each year, 80,000 men have a hip
    fracture and one-third of these men die within a year.
    Osteoporosis can
    strike at any age.
    Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million
    fractures annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, approximately 700,000
    vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures at
    other sites.
    Based on figures from hospitals and nursing homes, the
    estimated national direct expenditures for osteoporosis and related fractures
    total $14 billion each year.

    What Is
    Bone is living, growing tissue. It is made mostly of
    collagen, a protein that provides a soft framework, and calcium phosphate, a
    mineral that adds strength and hardens the framework.

    This combination of collagen and calcium makes
    bone both flexible and strong, which in turn helps it to withstand stress. More
    than 99 percent of the body’s calcium is contained in the bones and teeth. The
    remaining 1 percent is found in the blood.

    Throughout your lifetime, old bone is removed
    (resorption) and new bone is added to the skeleton (formation). During childhood
    and teenage years, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. As a
    result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. Bone formation outpaces
    resorption until peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) is reached
    around age 30. After that time, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone

    For women, bone loss is fastest in the first
    few years after menopause, and it continues into the postmenopausal years.
    Osteoporosis – which mainly affects women but may also affect men – will develop
    when bone resorption occurs too quickly or when replacement occurs too slowly.
    Osteoporosis is more likely to develop if you did not reach optimal peak bone
    mass during your bone-building years.

    Risk Factors

    Certain risk factors are linked to the
    development of osteoporosis and contribute to an individual’s likelihood of
    developing the disease. Many people with osteoporosis have several risk factors,
    but others who develop the disease have no known risk factors. There are some
    you cannot change and others you can.

    Risk factors you cannot

    – Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are
    a woman. Women have less bone tissue and lose bone faster than men because of
    the changes that happen with menopause.
    Age – The older you are, the greater your risk of
    osteoporosis. Your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
    Body size – Small, thin-boned women are at greater
    Ethnicity – Caucasian and
    Asian women are at highest risk. African American and Hispanic women have a
    lower but significant risk.
    – Fracture risk may be due, in part, to heredity. People
    whose parents have a history of fractures also seem to have reduced bone mass
    and may be at risk for fractures.
    Risk factors you can
    Sex hormones – Abnormal
    absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), low estrogen level (menopause), and
    low testosterone level in men can bring on osteoporosis.
    Anorexia nervosa – Characterized by an irrational
    fear of weight gain, this eating disorder increases your risk for osteoporosis.

    Calcium and vitamin D intake – A
    lifetime diet low in calcium and vitamin D makes you more prone to bone loss.

    Medication use – Long-term use
    of glucocorticoids and some anticonvulsants can lead to loss of bone density and
    Lifestyle – An
    inactive lifestyle or extended bed rest tends to weaken bones.
    Cigarette smoking – Cigarettes are bad for bones
    as well as the heart and lungs.
    – Excessive consumption increases the risk of bone loss
    and fractures.


    To reach optimal peak bone mass and continue
    building new bone tissue as you age, there are several factors you should

    Calcium: An inadequate supply of calcium over a
    lifetime contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies
    show that low calcium intake appears to be associated with low bone mass, rapid
    bone loss, and high fracture rates. National nutrition surveys show that many
    people consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to build and
    maintain healthy bones. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products,
    such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream; dark green, leafy vegetables, such
    as broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, and spinach; sardines and salmon with
    bones; tofu; almonds; and foods fortified with calcium, such as orange juice,
    cereals, and breads. Depending upon how much calcium you get each day from food,
    you may need to take a calcium supplement.

    Calcium needs change during one’s lifetime.
    The body’s demand for calcium is greater during childhood and adolescence, when
    the skeleton is growing rapidly, and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
    Postmenopausal women and older men also need to consume more calcium. Also, as
    you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing calcium and other
    nutrients. Older adults also are more likely to have chronic medical problems
    and to use medications that may impair calcium absorption.

    Calcium Intakes (mg/day)


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