About 10 million adults in the United States have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass that places them at risk for developing osteoporosis.
Seventy percent of people with osteoporosis are women. Men start with higher bone density and lose calcium at a slower rate than women, which is why their risk is lower. Nevertheless, older men are also at risk for osteoporosis.
As people age, their risks for osteoporosis increase. Aging causes bones to thin and weaken.
Although adults from all ethnic groups are susceptible to developing osteoporosis, Caucasian and Asian women and men face a comparatively greater risk.
Osteoporosis is more common in people who have a small, thin body frame and bone structure.
People whose parents had a history of fractures may be more likely to have fractures.
Women. Events associated with estrogen deficiencies are the primary risk factors for osteoporosis in women. These include:
- Menopause. Within 5 years after menopause, the risk for fracture increases dramatically. Fractures occurring during this period are more likely to occur in the wrist or spine than the hip, but their occurrence is a strong predictor of later severe osteoporosis and hip fracture.
- Surgical removal of ovaries
- Missing periods for 3 months or longer
- Never having given birth
- Anorexia nervosa, (an eating disorder), or extreme low body weight can affect the body's production of estrogen
Review Date: 10/21/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.