Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens the bones, making them more likely to break. It has no obvious symptoms early on and is often diagnosed only after a minor fall causes a bone to break. Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, medicines and lifestyle changes can prevent, slow, or stop its progress.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes osteoporosis?

    Osteoporosis is primarily caused by the natural aging process. For most people, your body replenishes bone faster than it’s broken down until you get into your 30s. Then that balance reverses, and you begin to lose bone faster than you can make it. That process accelerates with menopause in women. As the structure of bone becomes more porous, the bones become weak and brittle.

  • How can I prevent osteoporosis?

    Building lots of strong bones when you’re young can help off-set bone loss as you age. To protect your bones at any age:

    • Get enough calcium and vitamin D
    • Be active to keep bones and muscles strong
    • Don’t smoke or use tobacco
    • Don’t drink alcohol in excess
  • Are any foods bad to eat if you have osteoporosis?

    Excessive intake of some food components have been associated with lowering calcium levels, which can interfere with bone production. These include the following:

    • Sodium
    • Oxalate
    • Phosphorus 

    Caffeine may have a slight impact on bone loss, as well. Drinking soda is linked to bone loss, possibly due to the caffeine and phosphorous content, or because it’s associated with generally poor eating habits.

  • Can osteoporosis be reversed?

    The goal of osteoporosis treatments such as prescription drugs is to increase bone density. However, minimizing bone loss through proper nutrition and weight-bearing exercise plays an equally important role in keeping your bones healthy.

  • What is the best and safest treatment for osteoporosis?

    The answer varies depending on how you answer certain questions. Factors you and your doctor should consider include your sex, age, overall health, how much bone you’ve lost, what type of medications you prefer (injection, infusion, pill, etc.), and drug side effects. Your custom treatment regimen should consider all aspects of your health.

  • Is osteoporosis genetic?

    A genetic predisposition for osteoporosis can run in families. Numerous genes can increase your potential for developing osteoporosis, including those that determine your peak bone mass. Ethnicity plays a role, as well. For example, Black people tend to have a higher bone mass, followed by Hispanic people, then White and Asian people. However, individual variations exist.

Key Terms

How Osteoporosis Affects the Bones

In osteoporosis, bones become thinner over time. Explore this interactive model that shows how the condition can cause a loss of density in a bone such as the femur, making it more fragile.

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