Home » Diseases & Conditions » Osteoporosis » Osteoporosis – Definition, Causes and Risk Factors

Osteoporosis – Definition, Causes and Risk Factors

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by a reduction in the density of bone that resulting in weak and fragile bones. Literally, osteoporosis leads to uncommon porous bone that is compressible. This disorder increased risk for fractured bones, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Osteoporosis is often considered as a condition that frail elderly women developed. However, the damage from osteoporosis begins much earlier in life. Because peak bone density achieved in about age of 25 years, it is important to build strong bones at that age, so the bones will remain strong in the future. Adequate calcium intake is an important part of building strong bones.

In the U.S, an estimated 10 million people have osteoporosis and another 34 million people have osteopenia, a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. This amounts to 55 percent of American people aged of 50.

Of people older than 50 years old, one in eight men and one in two women are predicted to have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. These numbers will increase with the aging of American people.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), the prevalence of osteoporosis among U.S. white women past menopause estimated 14 percent in those 50-59 years, 22 percent in those 60-69 years, 39 percent in those 70-79 years, and 70 percent in those 80 years and older. Significant risk has been reported in people from various ethnic groups where White and Asian racial groups have greater risk.

Osteoporosis Causes

Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between the formation of new bone and old bone resorption. The body may fail to form enough new bone, or too much old bone to be reabsorbed, or both. The two essential minerals to form new bone are calcium and phosphate.

During adolescence, the body uses these minerals to produce bones. Calcium is essential for the proper functioning of the brain, heart and other several organs. To maintain critical organ function, body reabsorb calcium deposited in bones to maintain blood calcium levels.

If calcium intake is insufficient or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from the diet, bone production and bone tissues may suffer. So, bones can become weak, resulting in brittle and fragile bones that may break easily.

Normally, bone loss occurs over a period of years. Often, a person will sustain a fracture before becoming aware that this disease is present. At that time, the disease is possible in an advanced stage and may become serious.

The main cause of osteoporosis is a deficiency of certain hormones, especially androgen in men and estrogen in women. Women who older than 60 years, often diagnosed with this disease. Menopause is a main factor that cause lower estrogen levels and increase women’s risk for osteoporosis. Another factor that may contribute to osteoporosis including insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D, lack of physical activity, and other related age changes in endocrine function.

Other conditions that can causes of osteoporosis include over use of corticosteroids, bone cancer, thyroid problems, certain genetic disorders, and use of certain drugs.

Osteoporosis Risk factors

The following are several factors that can place a person at risk of osteoporosis:

  • Have a family member with osteoporosis particularly women
  • Women who are postmenopausal, including those who have early or surgically induced menopause, or absence of menstrual periods are at greater risk
  • Rheumatoid arthritis itself is a risk factor for osteoporosis
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Alcohol intake of more than two drinks a day
  • Caffeine intake of more than three cups a day