Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time.
Researchers estimate that about 1 out of 5 American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. About half of all women over the age of 50 will have a fracture of the hip, wrist, or vertebra (bones of the spine).
Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, when too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both.
The leading causes of osteoporosis are a drop in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a drop in testosterone in men. Women, especially those over age 50, get osteoporosis more often than men.
White women, especially those with a family history of osteoporosis, have a greater-than-average risk of developing osteoporosis.
Prevention is the best measure for treating osteoporosis:
- Eat a balanced diet including foods with sufficient amounts of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. (Your doctor may recommend a supplement to give you the calcium and vitamin D you need.)
- Maintain a regular exercise program as approved by your health care provider
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake