Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disorder in which bone tissue breaks down, making bone become increasingly fragile, leading to an increasing risk of fracture. Osteoporosis (and osteopenia, which refers to low bone density in general), can affect people of all ages.
Bone loss in adolescence and early adulthood can be a result of a failure to attain peak bone mineral density, and accelerated bone loss may be particularly noted around menopause and in later years. Many factors, including diet and the lack of proper exercise, contribute to bone loss during these periods. It can also occur as a result of numerous underlying conditions, many of which are often not readily apparent during the course of a doctor visit.
Osteoporosis is a “silent disease,” since there are no warning signs or symptoms until fractures occur. In the United States alone, an estimated 1.5 million fractures each year are attributed to low bone density. The risks of osteoporosis are not relegated exclusively to women – males represent 20% of all cases.
For more information, contact the Osteoporosis Prevention Center at HSS, which was founded to help prevent and treat osteoporosis.