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Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes, Risk Factors, and Lifestyle Choices


Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes. Alcoholism, medications (glucocorticoids, hormone therapy used for breast and prostate cancer treatment…), rheumatic, endocrine, liver diseases, renal insufficiency, among others.

Bones are in a constant state of renewal: new bones develop, and old bones break down. For instance, when you’re young, the development of new bones outpaces bone breakdown in the body, so bone mass increases. However, after the age of 20, this process slows down, and most people reach their peak bone mass by age 30. In summary, as people age, bone mass is lost faster than previously believed.

The likelihood of developing osteoporosis partly depends on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. Peak bone mass is partly hereditary and also varies by ethnic group. The higher your peak bone density, the more bone tissue you have “in reserve,” and the lower your chances of developing osteoporosis as you age.

Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes, Risk Factors

Some factors can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, including your age, race, lifestyle, as well as your medical conditions and treatments.

Unalterable Risks

According to the NIH, some osteoporosis risk factors are beyond your control, including the following:

Gender. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Age. The older you are, the higher the risk of osteoporosis. Race. You are at higher risk of osteoporosis if you are white or of Asian descent. Family history. Having a parent, mother, or brother with osteoporosis puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father had a hip fracture. Body size. Men and women with smaller body frames tend to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age. Hormone Levels

Osteoporosis is more common in people who have too much or too little of certain hormones in their bodies. For example:

First, sex hormones. Low levels of sex hormones tend to weaken bones. Decreased estrogen levels in menopausal women are one of the major risk factors for osteoporosis. Treatments for prostate cancer that lower testosterone levels in men and breast cancer treatments that lower estrogen levels in women may accelerate bone loss. Second, thyroid issues. High levels of thyroid hormone can cause osteoporosis. This can occur if your thyroid is overactive or if you take too many thyroid hormone medications to treat an underactive thyroid. Third, other glands. Osteoporosis has also been associated with overactivity of the parathyroid and adrenal glands. Dietary Factors

Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes

Osteoporosis is more likely to occur in people who have the following:

Low calcium intake. A lack of calcium throughout your life plays a significant role in osteoporosis development. A diet low in calcium contributes to decreased bone density, early bone loss, and a higher risk of fractures. Eating disorders. Extreme food restriction and low weight weaken bones in both men and women. Gastrointestinal surgery. Surgery to reduce the size of the stomach or to remove part of the intestine limits the amount of surface area available to absorb nutrients, including calcium. These surgeries include those to help you lose weight and other gastrointestinal disorders.

Steroids and Other Medications

Long-term use of oral or injected corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and cortisone, interferes with the bone-rebuilding process. Osteoporosis is also associated with medications used to fight or prevent:

Seizures Gastric reflux Cancer Transplant rejection Medical Conditions

The risk of osteoporosis is higher in people who have certain medical issues, including the following:

Celiac disease Inflammatory bowel diseases Kidney or liver condition Cancer Multiple myeloma Rheumatoid arthritis.

Lifestyle Options

Some unhealthy habits can increase your risk of osteoporosis. For instance:

Sedentary lifestyle. People who spend a lot of time sitting have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than those who are more active. Any weight-bearing exercise and activities promoting balance and good posture are beneficial for bones, but walking, running, jumping, dancing, and weightlifting seem particularly beneficial. Excessive alcohol consumption. Regularly consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of osteoporosis. Smoking. The exact role tobacco plays in osteoporosis is unclear, but smoking has been shown to weaken bones.

Understanding Osteoporosis: Causes

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