Oh, Osteoporosis


By: Nikki Nies

If one deconstructs the word osteoporosis it literally means porous bones (osteo=bones; porosis=porous).  Osteoporosis makes one’s bones weaker and more likely to break.  Not to generalize, but preventative advertisements usually target women as they are the predominant sex to have osteoporosis.

Identifying risk factors are important for prevention and to zero in on treatment options.

Risk Factors:

  • Small or thin frame
  • Older age
  • Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
  • Taking certain medications
  • Osteopenia–low bone density
  • Depends on how much bone mass one attained during youth
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Thyroid Problems: with too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss
  • Low calcium intake–contributes to diminished bone density and fractures
  • GI surgery–with a reduction in the size of one’s stomach or a bypass of intestines can decrease the size of the surface area available to absorb nutrients (i.e. calcium)
  • Eating disorders–anorexics have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis as there’s an overall decrease energy intake, which can cause reduce the amount of calcium consumed; can cause a cessation of menstruation–>weakens bones
  • Hormone levels–with a reduction in estrogen levels, increases one’s risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Steroid use–i.e. prednisone and cortisone; long term use can interfere with bone rebuilding process
  • Tobacco Use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Osteoporosis is called a silent disease, with symptoms not always clear.  The best way to diagnose someone is through a bone mineral density test.


  • Over time loss of height
  • Back pain
  • Stooped posture
  • Bone fractures


  • Exercise
  • Consuming calcium and vitamin D rich foods and/or supplements
  • Certain biphosphonates may slow the process of bone loss (i.e. Actonel, Binosto,Boniva and/or Fosamax)
  • Hormone Related Therapy
  • Prevent falls–wear low heeled shoes that are nonslip, keep brightly lit homes, prevent tripping over wires
  • Cessation of alcohol and/or smoking


Prevention: Eating a calcium and vitamin D rich diet, exercising regularly and not smoking can provide someone with the best chances not to develop osteoporosis.

Nothing in life is 100% certain, but by taking a proactive approach and reducing one’s controllable risk factors can decrease one’s chances of developing osteoporosis many folds.

Photo Credit: Bio News Texas and University of Maryland Medical Center 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128





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