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Causes of Osteoporosis: What Makes Your Bones Weak?

    Causes of Osteoporosis: What Makes Your Bones Weak?

    We often think of osteoporosis as a condition that comes with age. While this is true for the most part, there are other factors that can lead to it. Any person could be at risk of having weaker and more fragile bones if these are not taken into consideration. Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes of osteoporosis.

    Bones play a significant role in the body. Not only do they provide support and are essential in movement, but they also help in the production of blood cells and provide storage for both fat and minerals.

    Bone tissue serves various important metabolic processes. The bone matrix serves as a reservoir for a variety of minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus. These minerals, which are absorbed into bone tissue, can also be released back into the bloodstream to maintain the amounts required for physiological functions. And it is all of these important functions that make it essential to take care of the 206 bones you have.

    Defining Osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis refers to a bone disease which essentially results in “bones with holes.” It takes place when bone mineral density and bone mass decline, or when the bone structure changes. This results in a loss of bone strength, eventually increasing the risk of fractures.

    Some people may consider it as a “silent” condition for it may take some time to realize bones are weakening — if it is noticed at all. It is typically a fracture that draws attention to these changes in bone structure. This can happen in any bone, but it is most evident in the following parts of the body:

    • Hip
    • Vertebrae of the spine
    • Wrist
    • Knees

    Every year, osteoporosis causes more than two million fractures, and the number continues to increase. Women are more likely to have this condition as one of the causes of osteoporosis is hormonal changes.

    Causes of Osteoporosis

    There are a wide variety of risk factors and causes of osteoporosis. These include “unchangeable” factors such as sex and age, and factors that we can change, like hormones, lifestyle, diet and other medical conditions.

    Unchangeable Factors

    Some considerations fall into the category that is beyond your control, such as:

    • Sex – Women are more prone to having osteoporosis because of their body build. They have relatively smaller bones and lower peak bone mass than men. Meanwhile, men may still have it, especially when they reach 70 or older.
    • Age – Bone loss speeds up with age, whereas new bone formation slows. As bones deteriorate over time, the risk of developing osteoporosis also increases.
    • Body Frame Size – Slender, thin-boned men and women seem to be more susceptible to osteoporosis than those who have more bone mass to lose.
    • Race – Osteoporosis is more prevalent among Asian women, more so in the Philippines.
    • Family history – Researchers revealed that there is a link between family members having osteoporosis and your chances of developing the condition in the future.

    Hormonal Changes

    People with low levels of specific hormones in their bodies are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Below are some examples:

    • Low levels of estrogen for women in the menopausal stage
    • Lower estrogen levels in premenopausal women due to hormone disorders or excessive physical activity
    • Low testosterone levels for men due to other medical issues

    Lifestyle and Diet

    Your lifestyle or your diet could be one of the causes of osteoporosis.

    Many who have a sedentary lifestyle end up having a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Exercise promotes bone formation, but inactivity increases your chance of losing calcium from your bones and getting osteoporosis. On top of that, smoking and drinking practices are also among the causes of osteoporosis.

    As for eating habits, those who lack vitamin D and calcium intake may develop osteoporosis. This is also the same with those who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

    Other Medical Conditions

    Some medical conditions can increase the risk of osteoporosis, such as:

    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Thyroid disease
    • Celiac disease
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Chronic kidney or liver disease
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Certain types of cancer
    • Gastrointestinal disorders
    • Endocrine and hormonal disorders

    Of course, such medical concerns may need long-term medication and treatment, and these can lead to bone loss. Such medications are:

    • Steroids (glucocorticoids and adrenocorticotropic hormones)
    • Antiepileptic medicines
    • Cancer medications
    • Proton pump inhibitors
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • Thiazolidinediones

    Key Takeaway

    The role of the bones goes beyond support, shape, and movement. It is also responsible for maintaining other bodily functions which equip you to handle day-to-day activities.

    You may prevent the onset of osteoporosis by getting proper nutrition and an adquate supply of minerals like vitamin D and calcium. Regular exercise may also be beneficial in developing stronger bones.

    Learn more about Osteoporosis here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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    Osteoporosis, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/osteoporosis Accessed November 3, 2021

    Osteoporosis, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968 Accessed November 2, 2021

    Osteoporosis, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4443-osteoporosis Accessed November 3, 2021

    Osteoporosis, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/osteoporosis Accessed November 3,  2021

    Osteoporosis Overview, https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/osteoporosis/overview Accessed November 3, 2021

    What is osteoporosis?, https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/osteoporosis/ Accessed November 3, 2021

    The Functions of the Skeletal System, https://opentextbc.ca/anatomyandphysiologyopenstax/chapter/the-functions-of-the-skeletal-system/ Accessed November 3, 2021

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    Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Nov 04, 2021
    Fact Checked by Vincent Sales
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