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Osteoporosis most often affects those who are 50 or older. That’s because all adults naturally lose bone mass as they age. But some people have a greater risk than others for the significant loss that leads to osteoporosis. Women are at higher risk than men, but men are also at risk. About half of women and a quarter of men over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis affects people of all races and ethnic groups, but white and Asian people have the highest risk. A family history of hip fractures and other breaks can also increase risk. And certain medicines can cause bone loss, which increases the risk for osteoporosis. Hormone imbalances and dietary factors can also increase your risk.
Osteoporosis is sometimes called the silent disease because there are often no warnings in the early stages of bone loss. It’s only after your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis that you may show symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic says these symptoms can include:
Fractures due to osteoporosis can occur in any bone, but they happen most often in bones of the hip, wrist and spine.
It is possible to prevent or delay bone loss. It’s best to start prevention efforts when you’re young:
As you age, you can still take steps to prevent or delay bone loss:
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your health care provider may recommend that you take medicine to help prevent fractures.
If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about prevention strategies that may be right for you. Your doctor may suggest a bone density test to see how your bones are doing.
Originally published 8/3/2015; Revised 2017, 2022, 2023
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