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Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to weaken. Bones become increasingly fragile and may fracture easily. The disease often progresses painlessly until a bone breaks, usually in the hip, spine, or wrist. Women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, mainly due to the loss of estrogen at menopause. Half of all women over age 65 are affected with osteoporosis
The cause of osteoporosis is not known, but there are `risk factors' which increase the chance of developing the disease. Family history, diet, and lifestyle all play roles in determining risk for osteoporosis. Some people develop the disease even though they may seem to be at low risk.
Factors that may increase your chances of developing osteoporosis are:
Often a fracture is the first visible sign of osteoporosis. A family medical history and bone mass measurements are part of a complete assessment. Ask your doctor to help you better understand your own risk and to become aware of prevention and treatment options.
Lifestyle changes and medical treatment are part of a comprehensive program to prevent future fractures. A diet rich in calcium, daily exercise, and drug therapy are treatment options. Good posture and prevention of falls are important in reducing the chance of being injured.
You may call your doctor or your local medical society for a referral.
National Osteoporosis Foundation Dairy and Nutrition Council
202/223-2226 317/842-3060 (Indianapolis)
219/299-8040 (South Bend)