Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to weaken. It is most common in older women. In fact, up to half of all women over 50 and a quarter of men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis

Many people who have osteoporosis don’t know it and don’t find out until they break a bone. A bone mineral density test can measure your bone health, and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help to keep bones strong.

While genetics have a major effect on bone density, lifestyle and other health issues can also affect your bone health. Some common risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Using certain medications for a long time. These include steroids, methotrexate, certain antidepressants and epilepsy treatments, and antacids containing aluminum
  • Eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia
  • Small body frame, with a BMI equal to or less than 19
  • Asian ethnicity
  • Overactive thyroid or excessive thyroid hormone intake
  • Conditions that can lower calcium absorption, including celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, Cushing’s disease, hyperparathyroidism

Treatment of osteoporosis includes healing fractures and making lifestyle changes. There are also medications available for managing the condition.