Osteoporosis is a bone disease where the density of bones is decreased, contributing to decreased strength and increased fragility. Osteopenia is also a condition of decreased bone density, but not at a level as severe as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is common and affects approximately 54 million Americans. There are many contributors to osteoporosis, such as certain populations of people, medications, diets, decreased weight-bearing activities, and smoking.

There are many risk factors for osteoporosis. Certain populations of people are at an increased risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more common in the older population than the younger populations, more common in women than men, in women going through menopause, and in people who are thin and have low body weights. In addition, osteoporosis has a genetic component and can be more common in people with a family history of the condition. Some medications such as cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, proton pump inhibitors, and steroids may also contribute to osteoporosis.

Certain diets are also more susceptible to decreased density of bones, such as diets low in calcium and vitamin D. Some good sources of calcium and vitamin D are dairy products such as yogurts and cheeses, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, and vegetables such as kale and broccoli. In addition, weight-bearing activities, such as walking, increase bone density. People who do not participate in enough weight-bearing activities may be at risk for osteoporosis. Another factor that increases the risk for osteoporosis is smoking. Smoking can make it harder for calcium to be absorbed. These are just some of the factors that can affect the risk of osteoporosis.

Though osteoporosis is common, it doesn’t have to affect everybody. Through certain choices and lifestyle changes, the risk for osteoporosis can be decreased. If you would like more information on how to decrease your risk for osteoporosis, contact your healthcare provider.

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