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Osteoporosis is a condition in which the normal amount of bone mass has decreased.
People with osteoporosis have brittle bones, which increases the risk of bone fracture, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal Asian and Caucasian women. Premenopausal women are partially protected against bone loss by the hormone called estrogen. Black women often have slightly greater bone mass than do other women, which helps protect against bone fractures. In men, testosterone partially protects against bone loss even after middle age. Beyond issues of race, age, and gender, incidence varies widely from society to society, suggesting that osteoporosis is largely preventable.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease that may not be noticed until a broken bone occurs. Signs may include diminished height, rounded shoulders, dowager’s hump, and evidence of bone loss from diagnostic tests. Symptoms may include neck or back pain.
Smoking leads to increased bone loss.1 For this and many other health reasons, smoking should be avoided.
Exercise is known to help protect against bone loss.2 The more weight-bearing exercise done by men and postmenopausal women, the greater their bone mass and the lower their risk of osteoporosis. Walking is a perfect weight-bearing exercise. For premenopausal women, exercise is also important, but taken to extreme, it may lead to cessation of the menstrual cycle, which contributes to osteoporosis.3
Excess body mass helps protect against osteoporosis. As a result, researchers have been able to show that people who successfully lose weight have greater bone loss compared with those who do not lose weight.4 Therefore, people who lose weight need to be particularly vigilant about preventing osteoporotic fractures.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.