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10 Warning Signs for Osteoporosis
Oct 30, 2013

  • Body Type

People who are thin or small-framed are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. A person whose bones are small has less to lose.

  • Calcium Consumption

Milk really does do a body good. Drinking a glass of milk instead of a soda has a big effect on bone health. Both the calcium content and the vitamin D in milk is crucial for bone health. Many people are severely D-deficient, increasing risk not only for weak bones but for several types of cancer. And milk, which is fortified with vitamin D, is one of the only dietary sources of this important nutrient.

  • Medications

Drugs including prednisone or other corticosteroids, antidepressants, and thyroid hormone can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Over a long period, cortisone drugs deplete calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients from the bones and interfere with hormone levels, making bones more prone to bone loss. In addition, a group of antidepressants called SSRIs, as well as thyroid hormones have been associated with a higher incidence of osteoporosis.

  • Autoimmune Conditions

People with autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, have osteoporosis at a much higher rate than the average person. This is primarily due to the medications -- typically corticosteroids -- used to treat these conditions.

  • Family History

Family history is a major risk factor for poor bone health. If a close relative developed osteoporosis before age 50, your risk increases, too. If bad posture, a history of fractures or loss of height is common in your family, the risk of developing osteoporosis goes up.

  • Age

Bones lose strength with age, so age itself is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is much more common in men older than 50 and in women who've been through menopause.

  • Gender

Women are at increased risk of osteoporosis, partly because they tend to have smaller frames to begin with, and partly because the hormonal changes women go through contribute to bone loss. More than 80 percent of the 10 million people with osteoporosis are women.

  • History of Eating Disorders

A history of anorexia is one of the biggest red flags for osteoporosis, because when a woman's body weight drops too low, it lowers hormone levels, and she typically starts skipping periods. Anything that lowers estrogen levels interferes with bone building.

  • Smoking

According to doctors and researchers, smoking is one of the worst lifestyle factors for brittle bones. Smoking has been proven to have a direct correlation with osteoporosis.

  • Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol weakens bones, and also depletes calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from the bones.

If your loved one has two or more of these criteria, talk to your doctor about whether he or she should have a bone density scan.