Health Department Notes
National Osteoporosis Month Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. As a result, your bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from simple actions, like sneezing or bumping into furniture. There are many reasons why you might be at risk for osteoporosis. Some of these reasons are: • Older age. You can get osteoporosis at any age, but older people are more likely than younger people to have it. • Being female. Osteoporosis is more common in women than men. Eighty percent of people with osteoporosis are women. If you’re a woman, your risk of breaking a hip from osteoporosis is equal to your combined risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. • Twenty percent of people with osteoporosis are men. If you’re a man over the age of 50, you’re more likely to break a bone from osteoporosis than you are to get prostate cancer. • Family history. If one or both of your parents had osteoporosis, you are more likely to get the disease. If either of your parents had broken bones as an adult, became much shorter or had a spine that curved forward, they probably had osteoporosis, even if it wasn’t diagnosed. • Being small and thin. If you’re a woman or man with small bones, you’re more likely to get osteoporosis. But that doesn’t mean larger or heavier people can’t get it. • Lifestyle. Getting enough calcium, vitamin D and regular exercise is important for your bones. Eating fruits and vegetables is also good for bone health. While these things can help you prevent bone loss, you can have a healthy lifestyle and still be at risk for osteoporosis. On the other hand, eating poorly, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol or not exercising can cause bone loss and osteoporosis. • Other diseases - Certain diseases can make you more likely to get osteoporosis. Some examples are celiac disease, diabetes, eating disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Ask your doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any diseases or conditions that can cause osteoporosis. • Medicines. There are many medicines that can cause osteoporosis. Steroid medicines are one example. Many people need to take steroid medicines for allergies, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, lupus and other conditions. Some medicines for breast cancer, depression, prostate cancer, seizures and other diseases can also cause osteoporosis. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare provider if any of the medicines you take can increase your chances of getting osteoporosis. The following five steps can improve bone health and help prevent osteoporosis: • Get the calcium and vitamin D you need every day. • Do regular eight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. • Don’t smoke and don’t drink too much alcohol. • Talk to your healthcare provider about your chance of getting osteoporosis, and ask when you should have a bone mineral density test. • Take osteoporosis medicine when it’s right for you.