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Osteoporosis is a disorder where the bones become weakened leading to an increased risk of broken bones (fracture) with minimal trauma. Bone is constantly being reabsorbed and replaced. When more bone is reabsorbed than is laid down, the result is thinning of the bones (loss of bone mass). Peak bone mass is achieved at about 30 years of age. After that, bone is lost at a rate of about 1% per year.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include the following:

  • Female
  • Thin people
  • Older age group
  • Menopause before the age of 45
  • Smoking
  • High alcohol intake
  • Low sex hormone levels (as in menopause, anorexia, or excessive exercise)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • In addition to these risk factors, loss of height and back pain may alert your physician to a possible decrease in bone density.

The following will help prevent osteoporosis:

  • Adequate calcium intake
  • Adolescents 1,200-1,500 mg elemental calcium daily
  • Adult women (premenopausal) 1,000 mg elemental calcium daily
  • Adult women (menopausal on 1,000 mg elemental calcium daily estrogen replacement therapy)
  • Adult women (menopausal not on estrogen replacement therapy) 1,500 mg elemental calcium daily
  • Regular, weight bearing exercise
  • Cut down on alcohol intake
  • Stop smoking
  • Discuss the issue with your doctor if you are on long term steroids

There are a number of treatments available to increase bone density and reduce fracture risk:

  • Calcium and vitamin D
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Selective Estrogen-Receptor Modulators (SERMs). Raloxifene hydrochloride is the only SERM approved for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
  • Hormone replacement therapy