OsteoporosisOsteoporosis Risk Factors

Let's Talk About Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Learn what makes you vulnerable to this bone-weakening condition, and you may be able to help prevent it.

    Our Pro PanelOsteoporosis Risk Factors

    We tapped into some of the best bone experts for the most up-to-date information possible.

    Stephen Honig, M.D.

    Stephen Honig, M.D.Rheumatologist and Director

    Osteoporosis Center at NYU Langone
    New York, NY
    Kendall Moseley, M.D.

    Kendall Moseley, M.D.Medical Director

    Johns Hopkins Metabolic Bone & Osteoporosis Center
    Baltimore, MD
    Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.

    Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Services

    Yale School of Medicine
    New Haven, CT

    Frequently Asked QuestionsOsteoporosis Risk Factors

    Is osteoporosis hereditary?

    The majority of your peak bone mass — the most amount of bone mass you’ll reach in your lifetime — is determined by genetics. Meaning, low bone density can simply run in your family — putting you at risk for developing osteoporosis. If one or both of your parents have fractured a bone from little impact, you may consider a bone density screening to see how strong (or weak) your bones are. Screenings are typically done after menopause for at-risk women, or by age 65 for the general population, and after age 70 for men.

    What causes osteoporosis?

    Osteoporosis is spurred by low bone density, or bones that are low in minerals — primarily calcium — which is found in the hard part of bones. When you start to lose bone density, bones get brittle, porous and can break from the slightest impact. Low bone density has many possible causes, including lack of hormones (estrogen in women and androgens in men), your natural bone structure, underlying medical conditions, medications, poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, and more.

    What are the signs of osteoporosis?

    The condition is typically not detected until you have a fracture, but a nagging backache can be a sign of osteoporosis pain, and more specifically, collapsed vertebrae (a common complication of the disease). Other telltale signs can include shrinking in height. Because there are rarely symptoms, it’s important to know if you’re at risk so you can take steps to boost your bone health.

    Can I prevent osteoporosis?

    Yes, you can. You can’t do much about your gender, bone size, and the natural aging process, so preventing osteoporosis comes down to changing the risk factors you do have influence over. Eating a diet that includes bone-boosting calcium and vitamin D, refraining from smoking, keeping drinking in check, maintaining a healthy weight, and doing weight-bearing exercise regularly may prevent your bone density from getting dangerously low.

    Krista Bennett DeMaio

    Krista Bennett DeMaio


    Krista Bennett DeMaio is a health and beauty writer living in Huntington, NY with her husband and three daughters.