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Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones become weak and more likely to break. Since there are no symptoms of osteoporosis, you might not know your bones are getting weaker until a bone breaks. If not prevented or left untreated, osteoporosis can grow without pain until a bone breaks.

Risk Factors

The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis. Your bones become weaker with age.

Women have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis than men. White and Asian American women are more likely to get osteoporosis.

Small-boned and thin women (less than 127 pounds) are at greater risk for osteoporosis.

Family history of osteoporosis or fractures and reduced bone mass puts you at a greater risk for osteoporosis.

A diet low in milk products or other sources of calcium and vitamin D may cause weak bones.

Inactive lifestyle or being on bed rest for a long period of time tends to weaken your bones and increase your risk for osteoporosis.

Cigarette smoking and/or drinking alcohol put you at greater risk for osteoporosis.

Reduction in estrogen caused by menopause, especially early or surgically induced menopause, increases your risk of getting osteoporosis. Estrogen blocks or slows down bone loss. Women who stop having their monthly menstrual periods before menopause because of conditions such as anorexia or bulimia or because of excessive physical exercise, may experience bone loss and bone thinning and weakness.

Use of certain medications such as glucocorticords, gonadotropin releasing hormone, anti-seizure medications, some antacids, certain cancer treatments and excessive thyroid hormone may increase your risk for osteoporosis. (Do not stop taking medications without discussing with your health care provider.)

What Can You Do?

Self Management

  • Get daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Engage regularly in weight-bearing exercise.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle with no alcohol intake.

Tobacco Cessation

The use of tobacco in any form is a great health concern. Even if you don't smoke, reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. If you use tobacco products, prepare yourself to quit as soon as possible.

  • Set a date to stop and mark it on your calendar. Twenty-four hours before the start date make everyone aware of your goal to stop.
  • Remove the smell of tobacco by cleaning your house and car. Remember to get rid of lighters, ashtrays and matches.
  • You can use over-the-counter aids such as nicotine patches and gum. Contact your health insurance provider to see if Nicotine replacement therapy is a covered service.
  • Know what your triggers are that make you want to use tobacco products and be prepared with chewing gum, celery or carrot sticks.
  • Kentucky has a free Quit Now program that helps you quit using tobacco products. You can contact the Quit Now program at (800) 784-8669.

Working with your health care provider

  • Talk to your health care provider about your bone health.
  • Get bone density testing and medication when needed.


Osteoporosis Resources
  National Osteoporosis Foundation  


Last Updated 9/28/2012