Osteoporosis Are You at Risk

While bone loss is a natural part of aging, osteoporosis and fractures don't need to be, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. As with any health problem, some women and men are at greater risk than others.

What's your risk? Check all those that apply to you. Risk factors you can't control. Are you: _ 1. Female?

_ 2. Thin? Or small-boned, with a slight body frame?

_ 3. Caucasian or Asian?

_ 5. From a family with osteoporosis?

Risk factors you can control. Are you:

  1. Physically inactive?
  2. Consuming an overall eating plan that's low in calcium and vitamin D?
  3. Taking high doses of thyroid medication, or high or prolonged doses of cortisonelike medication for asthma, arthritis, or other diseases?
  4. A current smoker? A heavy drinker of alcoholic beverages?

Adapted from: National Osteoporosis Foundation.

although people in these ethnic groups develop osteoporosis, too. Their bones usually are stronger and more dense throughout their lives, although all races and ethnic groups need the same amount of calcium.

  • Age. Bone is dynamic with an ongoing process of bone tissue replacement called remodeling. Until your early 30s, more bone tissue is re-formed than lost. Then a few years later that equation flips. More bone is lost than is formed—up to 1 percent of bone loss per year, depending on individual differences. During the first few years of menopause, there is more rapid bone loss.
  • Family history. Osteoporosis runs in families. Not only do people inherit a genetic tendency toward bone fractures and osteoporosis, but also families often live similar lifestyles that may increase their risk.
  • Physical activity. Being inactive—perhaps with a desk job, sedentary leisure time, driving—for a long time weakens bones. However, regular weight-bearing activities such as walking, strength training, and dancing trigger your body to deposit calcium in your bones. That makes them stronger and more dense.
  • Calcium intake. Throughout life, calcium, along with vitamin D, is a bone builder. Ifyour calcium and vitamin D supplies consistently have come up short before ages thirty to thirty-five, your bones may not be as dense as they could be, and less bone was built. After age thirty-five or so, adults may lose bone faster when their food choices don't supply enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Some medications. The use of some medications is linked significantly to increased risk for osteoporosis: ongoing use of steroids, thyroid medicine, and cortisone-like medications. Some health conditions increase risk, too.
  • Smoking. For men and women, smoking promotes bone loss. Among women, smoking lowers estrogen levels, which further contributes to bone loss. If you smoke, that's another good reason to quit.
  • Heavy drinking. Heavy drinking is linked to weaker bones. But reasons aren't clear—perhaps heavy drinkers make poor food choices or maybe it's a metabolic link.

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