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Osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

As we age, our body starts to lose its ability to replace old bone cells with new ones. That can lead to osteoporosis — a disease where bone mass and bone tissue deteriorates, and bone mineral density decreases. And all this can leave our bones thin, weak and susceptible to fractures, cracks or breaks.

Osteoporosis isn’t just a women’s issue; men can get it too. As a matter of fact, Health Canada estimates that in Canada one in four women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, and so do one in eight men in that same age group.

Causes of osteoporosis

Bone loss can go unnoticed — it has no symptoms. Usually, a fracture is the first sign. And that means osteoporosis treatment is delayed.

That’s why it’s important to know and discuss your risk factors with your healthcare provider. Causes of osteoporosis and factors that increase your risk include:

  • Age — being over 65
  • Estrogen drop in menopause — estrogen helps keep bones healthy
  • No hormone replacement after having ovaries removed or if in early menopause (younger than age 45)
  • A family history of the disease
  • Osteopenia — low bone mineral density but not low enough to be osteoporosis
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol — consistently having more than two drinks a day
  • Too much caffeine — more than four cups a day of coffee, tea or cola
  • Having low body weight
  • Eating a diet low in calcium
  • Lack of physical activity

Causes of osteoporosis also include taking medication or having another medical condition, resulting in what’s called secondary osteoporosis. According to Osteoporosis Canada, some conditions that can cause bone loss, fractures or falls include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis — pain and loss of range of motion can lead to less physical activity and, consequently, bone loss
  • Diabetes — type 1 diabetes may mean you’re at higher risk for low bone density; and when not managed properly type 1 or type 2 diabetes can lead to conditions (such as low blood sugar or hypoglycemia) which can lead to falls
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — associated with osteoporosis due to a combination of smoking, poor nutrition, medication, and being underweight
  • Hyperthyroidism — too much thyroid hormone may prevent calcium absorption
  • Kidney disease — can causes different bone conditions, and medication for some kidney conditions could increase your risk of osteoporosis
  • Liver disease — linked with vitamin D deficiency and decreased bone development

Regardless of whether or not you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, try these helpful bone-smart lifestyle choices.

Want more information and support? Search “osteoporosis” in Find Support for organizations in your area.

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