Just as high cholesterol is a risk factor for having a heart attack, osteoporosis is a risk factor for a fracture. But, how do we identify if we are at risk of osteoporosis? Here’s what you should know.

What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disorder characterized by loss of bone mass and density. As it progresses, it increases our risk for fractures. The term osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bone’. The progression of the condition initially has no symptoms of pain and a fracture may actually be the first sign.

On World Osteoporosis Day (October 20), here are 10 factors that put you at risk of osteoporosis.

Risk Factors For Osteoporosis

1) Gender
Women who’ve crossed the age of 50 are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. After menopause, the lack of estrogen can increase bone resorption (breakdown) which overtakes the building of new bone. This can lead to osteoporosis. Women also tend to have thinner, lighter bones that could make them susceptible to it.

2) Age
The bone reaches maximum density and strength at age 30 following which its mass begins to decline naturally with age.

3) Ethnicity
Research has found that Asian and Caucasian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Hip fractures are twice as likely to occur in Caucasian women as compared to African-American women. It is interesting to note that women of color have a higher death rate due to fractured hips.

4) Family History
A major risk factor for osteoporosis is your genes. If your grandparents or parents have had osteoporosis, you might be at an increased risk of it.

5) Cigarette Smoking
Smoking prevents absorption of important nutrients including calcium that could increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

6) Alcohol
Binge drinking can lead to thinning of the bones and increase your risk of fracture.

7) Autoimmune Diseases
Certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk for osteoporosis.

8) Certain Medicine
Prolonged use of steroids such as prednisone can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

9) Prior History Of Bone Fracture
Having a bone fracture that could have resulted from a minor event can be a sign of undiagnosed osteoporosis.

10) Bone Structure & Bone Weight
Thin and petite women are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because the loss of bone impacts them more significantly than women with more body weight and a larger frame. The same applies to men.

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